Claremore Daily Progress

September 12, 2013

Grand Jury supporters gathering signatures

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

Grand Jury petition organizers are in the second week of collecting signatures and are one-third of the way to reaching their goal.
Organizers are trying to insure the petition exceeds signature requirements as determined by the Oklahoma State Statutes,  said Steve Cox, petition signer and group spokesman. 
“The majority of our signatures come from people stopping in at the headquarters [located at 649 Ramm Road in Claremore] or at one of our drive-through locations,” Cox said.  “We are not actively soliciting the signatures. People are coming to find us.” 
The statutes require a maximum of 5,000 signatures to convene a grand jury, but organizers are looking to double that amount. 
Rogers County Election Board Secretary Julie Dermody has stated 4,487 signatures of current registered voters will be necessary to certify the petition.
Those numbers reflect 16 percent of the total amount of voters who voted in the last governor’s election, according to Dermody.
Dermody said her office is responsible for verifying the signatures.
People signing the petition need to remember to put the correct information, including their printed name, address and signature, according to Cox.
Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker signed the petition last week, but did not list his complete address.
Thacker did list his address as Inola and Dermody said his signature will still count for the petition, but people need to include as much information as possible.
The information should match as closely as possible to their voter registration, according to Dermody. 
Organizers know it is likely several of the signatures will be counted as invalid during the process and so they plan to exceed the requirements.
“I want to turn in so many signatures the message will come through to our government that the people of Rogers County want accountability,” Cox said. “A grand jury is designed to find the truth. If you support the items listed in the petition or even if you don’t, you can still know your signature is a show of support for the process not just the allegations.”
Once empaneled, a grand jury’s inquiry is not limited to the items or individuals listed in the petition.
Cox said a number of the people signing the petition have shared personal stories of why they are supporting the grand jury.
Petition organizers are working to make sure anyone that wishes to participate has an opportunity. This week petitions will be available for the public at the Rogers County Fair at the Claremore Expo Center.
Additionally, the petition headquarters, located near Atwoods in Claremore, is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday thru Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m .
Drive-through signing opportunities are hosted weekly with the primary location of J.M. Davis near First Street across from Napa Auto Parts and Carls Jr. in Claremore.
Organizers will host a garage sale Saturday at the petition headquarters to collect donations to offset the cost of fliers, booth rentals, banners and other supplies.
The petition is an effort raised by citizens for citizens and is funded by the citizens of Rogers County, according to Cox.
The group is looking to raise money to keep the drive moving forward.
Anyone interested in donating items for the garage sale can drop them off by 8 p.m. on Friday, according to Cox. Any items not sold will be donated to area charity organizations including the domestic abuse shelter, he said.  
Petition organizers would like to make sure the public understands the effort in Rogers County is separate from a grand jury petition in Owasso.
Officials reported Tuesday the grand jury petition drive in Owasso delivered about 10,000 signatures to the Tulsa County Court Clerk.