COMANCHE COUNTY, Okla. – More drama at the Comanche County Commissioners Office, as former Commissioner Ron Kirby's embattled second deputy, Lori Kerbo, has resigned.
Kerbo offered her resignation just before Wednesday's regularly scheduled meeting of the excise board. She says she was given an ultimatum yesterday. The argument over Kerbo's job came to a boiling point earlier this month, when excise board member J.P. Richard questioned Kirby's decision to hire her.
Kerbo says she was hired in the middle of a battle between Kirby, Eastern District Commissioner Gail Turner, Excise Board Member J.P. Richard and other staff. She says the day after Kirby resigned, she was told that she could resign or wait until the commissioner's voted to terminate her position next Tuesday.
Kerbo says the atmosphere in the commissioner's office in the hours after Kirby resigned was tense. She says there were a lot of meetings between the commissioners and some staff behind closed doors.
"It was very obvious to me that they were not just going after Mr. Kirby and trying to get him out of there even though, you know. The things that were going on in that office were going on a long time before I even got there," said Kerbo.
Kerbo says ultimately, Turner gave her two choices.
"You can go ahead and resign and we will offer you a severance package and your resignation will be quiet and go away. The other option is you can wait and Tuesday morning we wait to vote on whether to terminate your position," said Kerbo.
Richard says his desire to eliminate Kerbo's position was not personal. He said her hiring was not justified in the first place.
"The question I asked all three commissioners was the violation of budget agreement necessary in hiring Miss Kerbo. Was the workload on the third floor so overwhelming that Kirby needed to hire somebody else?" said Richard.
Kerbo says she would normally not go public about what she considers a private matter. But she says what has happened at the county commissioner's office is not right.
"The public needs to be more involved in what is going on in that office. I think the public needs to demand that every person that works for the county is forthcoming and is doing everything legal," said Kerbo.
As for who will fill Kirby's position, Turner says no one will be appointed. He said he and Western District Commissioner Don Hawthorne will take over responsibilities for the central district for the rest of the year.
Turner said there will not be a special election to fill the final months of Kirby's term, since the regular election is already set for June and November.
As 7News reported last night, Lawton Councilmen Michael Tenis and Bill Shoemate have declared they will run for the commissioner's job. Turner said he believes there may ultimately be as many as five candidates in the race.