A five-year extension of Rogers County’s penny sales tax for roads and bridges coasted to an easy victory Tuesday.
The final unofficial vote was 1,887 yes and 1,354 no, a victory margin of 58 percent.
The results showed the waning power of Claremore in countywide politics. The Claremore Daily Progress and the board of the Claremore Chamber of Commerce opposed the tax extension, which failed in the city precincts.
But that could not overcome the victory margins in the rest of the county, where the population outnumbers Claremore’s by an almost 4-1 margin.
The biggest victory margin was in Chelsea, where the tax extension won by a margin of over 80 percent. It was approved in Oologah by a margin of 70 percent.
A countywide precinct-by-precinct breakdown of the voting numbers was not immediately available.
The tax failed in 12 precincts, tied in two precincts and passed in 22 precincts (see map).
Absentee voters approved the extension by a 59 percent margin, early voters who cast ballots Friday and Monday at the election board said yes by a 55 percent margin and those who voted on Election Day approved the issue by a 58 percent margin.
The tax was initially approved in 1988 by a margin of 55 percent and subsequently renewed in five-year increments by margins of 68 percent, 63 percent, 75 percent and 55 percent.
All three Rogers County Commissioners expressed delight at the results, appreciation for the voters who turned out, and a promise to continue improving the county’s roads and bridges.
All also said they hoped Claremore leaders would recognize the voters’ clear message that the city needs to work with, not against, the rest of the county.
“The people who wanted good roads and bridges and streets really got out there and got after it,” said District 2 Commissioner Mike Helm. “What a great job the citizens did in bringing it back.”
District 1 Commissioner Dan DeLozier said he was pleased that despite attacks on county commissioners originating in Claremore, “voters pay attention (and know) that we do our jobs.”
Of the huge margin in his hometown of Chelsea he said, “I knew we would carry it and I was very pleasantly surprised” by the size of the victory.
All three also expressed disappointment about the turnout. Just 3,241 of the county’s 51,645 registered voters, or 6.28 percent, cast ballots.
Commission Chairman Kirt Thacker said, “If we don’t exercise our God- and veteran-given right to vote, then what hope do we really have that America will continue to be free?”
News editor Chris Edens contributed to this story