New county officers sworn in at ceremony

By Traci Chapman/Staff Writer
published Jan. 10, 2009

The new year brought some major changes to the face of Canadian County government, as four new officers took the reins of their respective offices.

District 2 Commissioner David Anderson, Sheriff Randall Edwards, Court Clerk Marie Ramsey and County Clerk Shelley Dickerson were sworn in Jan. 2. All four officers are assuming positions held by longtime county employees who have now left office. District 1 Commissioner Phil Carson said the change “in the guard” signaled a lot for the county.

“We had some really great officers who worked so hard for the county, and it will be strange not to see (former county clerk) Phyllis Blair’s face during our meetings,” he said. “I do think we see some real enthusiasm, though, and especially now during these challenging times, that’s very important.”

David Anderson

Anderson won election to the District 2 spot after a “long, long” campaign in which he defeated four challengers to the job held by former Commissioner Don Young. Young, who served as commissioner for a total of 17 years, retired to farm full time in Mustang.

Anderson, a lifelong Mustang resident, has owned and operated Dave Anderson Construction since 1981. The company primarily performs infrastructure construction for communities and developments, particularly working on sewer and water projects for a variety of entities, Anderson said. He turned over the operations of the company to his son, Mark Anderson, upon his election.

At his swearing-in ceremony, Anderson said the commissioner’s post would be a big change for him.
“This is the first time I’ve had to work for someone else,” he said. “I’m just so honored that the voters expressed the confidence that I would serve them well.”

Randall Edwards

Edwards faced off against his former boss, Lewis Hawkins, to win the county’s top law enforcement job. Hawkins had served as sheriff since 1989.

Edwards began his career in law enforcement after his 1974 discharge from the Marines Corps. After returning home, he began working with the El Reno Police Department. After closing a longtime business he owned, he returned to law enforcement in 2000, taking a position with the Canadian County Sheriff’s Department. He resigned from the department when he began his campaign for sheriff.

Edwards said his top goals are to reinstate programs dropped by Hawkins, as well as some he said had not been pursued by his predecessor.

“We are getting the K-9 unit back up and running right away,” he said. “My main focus is to hit the drug problem in the county very hard — we’re going to make some major changes.”

Edwards also takes on a county jail that has struggled with overcrowding and maintenance problems. After voters rejected a plan to build a new jail in May, a committee was formed to study the issue. Edwards said he turned to a federal resource for some answers.

Agents with the National Institute of Corrections will arrive Jan. 19 to conduct a detailed assessment of both the jail and all sheriff’s department operations, he said.
“I’m looking forward to getting their feedback so we can decide how best to move forward,” he said.

Shelley Dickerson

Dickerson has worked for the county for 27 years. In addition to her day-to-day experience in the county clerk’s office, Dickerson said she has completed leadership programs and county clerk certification programs offered by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service County Training Program. She said Monday she is excited about the county’s potential.

“There are so many services we can offer our citizens, and we are going to work to expand those in the county clerk’s office,” she said.

Dickerson said she appreciated the leadership shown by Blair. The former county clerk retired after working for the county for 27 years. Blair said she would work with her husband in his business and concentrate on her grandchildren.

Marie Ramsey

Ramsey began her career with the county in the file room of the court clerk’s office. In 2006, she was appointed deputy clerk, and she said she knew then she would someday like to run that division. When longtime Court Clerk Dee Ray — who worked in the office for 21 years — decided to retire earlier this year, Ramsey said she just knew the “time was right.”

Ramsey said she has been blessed in her family and her job, calling her office “a family rather than a group of co-workers,” which is the reason she has stayed for so long.

“That’s what I love most about the job — I’ve never known people like this who are so supportive and caring. I enjoy the people, I enjoy the job,” she said. “The county has been wonderful for me.”

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