Oklahoma governor names gay commissioner to state post

Posted on 17 May 2007 at 7:13pm
By Ron Jenkins Associated Press

Roth appointed to replace Bode on Oklahoma Corporation Commission



Oklahoma County Commissioner Jim Roth appears at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, May 14. Roth will replace Denise Bode on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the three-member state agency that regulates utilities and oil companies. (SUE OGROCKI/Associated Press)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Brad Henry appointed Oklahoma County Commissioner Jim Roth on Monday, May 14, to replace Denise Bode on the three-member state agency that regulates utilities and oil companies.

Roth, 38, was the first openly gay person elected to public office in Oklahoma. He is the partner of Dallas real estate agent Worth Ross.

Henry called Roth, 38, a man of unquestioned integrity who had been “a continuing voice of reason” as one of Oklahoma County’s three commissioners.

“Not only does he exemplify the highest ethical standards, but he is a consensus builder who recognizes the importance of bipartisanship and working together,” Henry said.

“I am confident that Jim’s fair-mindedness, honesty and attention to detail will make him an excellent addition to the commission,” the governor added.

Bode announced last month that she is resigning effective May 31 from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to launch a new foundation promoting the use of natural gas.

Henry announced the appointment of the Democratic county commissioner at a news conference attended by Oklahoma County officials, including Ray Vaughn, a fellow commissioner.

Vaughn, a Republican, has sided with Roth on some issues against Republican Brent Rinehart, the third commissioner.

Roth, who is openly gay, has been county commissioner since 2002. He was re-elected with 63 percent in 2006.

He was asked if his lifestyle was an issue in talks with the governor.

“What, the fact that I’m a K-State grad?” replied Roth, who was born in Prairie Village, Kan., and is a graduate of Kansas State University.

He said his discussions with Henry centered on his qualifications and the governor’s vision of the role the commission should play in an era of change in the energy industry.

Others on hand for the announcement included Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, Oklahoma County Clerk Patricia Presley and Linda Simpson, deputy commissioner in Roth’s office who will take over his duties on an interim basis.

Before becoming a county commissioner, Roth was a deputy county clerk and a deputy county commissioner.

An attorney, he is a law school graduate of Oklahoma City University.
Roth’s salary as county commissioner is about $95,000 and he said he will make about $100,000 as corporation commissioner.

Under state law, Roth will serve until the next general election in 2008, when he must run for the remaining two years of Bode’s term.

If he is successful, he can run for a full six-year term in 2010.

Roth said he will bring “a completely unbiased” viewpoint to the job and promised to listen to all sides.

He said his training and experience in law should be an asset on the quasi-judicial three-member commission.

He said he had talked with Bode and Commissioners Bob Anthony and Jeff Cloud about the duties of the job, but purposely did not discuss policy or pending cases.

Anthony said Roth’s “administrative and legal skills will be called upon starting from his first day on the job next week.”

“We soon must decide cases that will significantly impact Oklahoma consumers for decades to come,” Anthony said.

Roth, is scheduled to assume his duties on June 1.

He said he was notified of his appointment last Thursday, May 10.

He informed his staff of his plans to take the position on Monday.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 18, 2007

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