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County clerk, former commissioner face off in race

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The candidates for Oklahoma County court clerk don't hesitate to sling mud.

THE INCUMBENT
RECORD MAINTENANCE

Former County Commissioner Stan Inman is attempting to make a political comeback by taking on incumbent Clerk Carolynn Caudill. The two clashed on a regular basis while Inman was on the county commissioners' board, and it appears the fighting is back on.

"It's time for somebody else to come in and do what needs to be done," Inman said.

"I can't believe the people fired him a year and (a) half ago and he wants to come back and cost the county more money," Caudill countered.

Inman was elected to the board of county commissioners in 2002 but lost his re-election bid to Ray Vaughn in 2006. Before his commissioner days, Inman worked for the Canadian County Vo-Tech, as an adjunct professor at Central State University and as an account supervisor for Oscar Meyer. He holds a bachelor's and master's degree in business administration.

THE INCUMBENT
Caudill is seeking her fourth term as Oklahoma County clerk. She was appointed to the position in 1996 by former Gov. Frank Keating after working in the state auditor's office. Caudill first clerked for Kiowa County. Before her current career, she was a hairdresser for 15 years.

Inman said he is running because the clerk's office is vital to county government.

"When I was county commissioner, it didn't take me more than a month to determine that nothing can be done without getting the right information from the clerk," he said. "It became obvious to me that the single most important office down there is county clerk."

Caudill said she wants to retain the spot because she loves numbers, enjoys helping the public and considers herself a valuable asset to county government.

"I've been doing it for 27 years and I know there is a lot of waste in state government and county government," she said. "I know where the skeletons are."

Inman's main critique of Caudill is the office's lack of providing needed information to county officials in a timely manner, and the problems the clerk's office has faced in dealing with taxpayers' private information. Last year, the clerk's office removed thousands of Social Security numbers from online records.

"She's been down there 12 years and hasn't been able to solve those problems," Inman said.

RECORD MAINTENANCE
But Caudill said her office does not create the records, just stores and maintains them, and state law prevents any altering of them.

"We are only the custodian of the record," she said. "We cannot change that record. What we did was we took an extra step that nobody else has done. We went in and had those (records) redacted."

Caudill is critical of Inman's days as county commissioner and his effort to dissolve the county budget board. County elected officials comprised the board, but when Inman was able to push through his plan to dissolve the board, that left the budget decisions to the three commissioners. It was one of Vaughn's main arguments when he ousted Inman in 2006.

"He (Inman) didn't understand the county laws," Caudill said. "I tried to explain to him all he was doing was giving all the power to the excise board" " a county board that formulates budget numbers.

Vaughn helped reinstate the budget board, a move with which Inman now agrees.

"Having done both ways, the better of the two is the budget board," he said.

Both Caudill and Inman are Republicans and the only candidates for the office. It will be winner take all on the July 29 primary.  "Scott Cooper

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