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McCurtain County commissioner resigns after outcry over racist remarks

A resignation note from McCurtain County official Mark Jennings dated Tuesday, April 19, 2023
Mark Jennings
Gov. Kevin Stitt's office
A resignation note from McCurtain County official Mark Jennings dated Tuesday, April 19, 2023

An embattled McCurtain County official resigned Wednesday.

Commissioner Mark Jennings, who was reportedly caught on tape saying he would run for public office if violence against Black people was legal, announced his resignation.

The tendering comes after Idabel Mayor Craig Young calledfor Jennings to step down.

“So we can start rebuilding here at the county. I think a lot of this sh*t would go away,” said Young in an interview with Public Radio Tulsa.

Young was not Jennings’ only detractor. Gov. Kevin Stitt also askedfor the former commissioner to step down.

Stitt’s office said Wednesday Jennings submitted his resignation through a handwritten note.

Officials are still calling for the resignations of others allegedly involved in the March 6 discussion recorded by Bruce Willingham, editor of the McCurtain Gazette-News.

McCurtain County state Sen. George Burns issued a statement Wednesday saying Sheriff Kevin Clardy, sheriff’s investigator Alicia Manning, and jail administrator Larry Hendrix who were also apparently involved in the “racist, hateful comments” should resign.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association voted to suspend Clardy, Manning, and Hendrix.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.
Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.