State Rep. Marty Quinn is launching an interim study to research how training requirements for county elected officials could be improved.
Approved by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, the study is scheduled for the morning of Nov. 12.
“This study is important because as elected officials we obligate ourselves to manage public funds, maintain sound policies and procedures at the highest level possible,” said Quinn, R-Claremore. “In many of the occupations that affect our lives for example hair stylist, teachers, insurance agents, real estate agents and plumbers, citizens must get a certification to practice their trade. Even people that work at our local restaurants have to get a food handlers license, which requires they pass a test. When you talk to the everyday citizen they say it just makes sense the elected official have a basic knowledge of the office they desire to hold. Having this knowledge before you take office can be even more critical when your responsible for budgets and expenditures which can range in the millions of taxpayer dollars.”
The same standard is not currently applied to county officials, he said.
“It would have been beneficial for me as a newly elected state representative back 2010 to have received some basic knowledge of the processes and procedures before taking office,” Quinn said. “At this point we may want to look at these same requirements for the Oklahoma State Legislature as well as county officials.
“If people working in other professions are required to pass a test, is it asking too much of our elected officials to have the same requirement. I don’t want our elected officials to take a test, hoping they fail. I want them to take a test and pass to prove they have retained the information and are qualified to hold the office.”
Quinn said the goal is to require elected county officials to receive a basic level of training that is specific to the job requirements needed to fulfill the obligations of the office. Specific knowledge as it relates to our elected offices is critical to avoiding costly financial mistakes at the taxpayers’ expense, he said.
“If we truly care about the people we represent, we will embrace the idea of being better trained so we can serve our constituents at a higher level,” Quinn said.
Currently most elected county officials are required to take a minimal amount of training and testing is optional. The county assessor has seven courses they must take and pass. The county sheriff and his deputies must receive 80 hours of training to become CLEET-certified.
Quinn hopes once the information has been collected and the study is complete, there will be a reasonable solution to better training for elected county officials.