County Term Limits: A Legislator’s Observation

Representative, Jason Murphey publicly  advocates for extending Oklahoma elective term limits to county governments. See Okscam history at bottom of the post.
Here is his facebook post:

  A legislative committee recently approved an initiative to place a term limit of 12 years upon county commissioners.

  There is little doubt that term limits on Oklahoma legislators was a key factor in breaking up the old guard, evil empires, and political machines -- a time when lifetime politicians adversely dominated Oklahoma politics.
  The people of Oklahoma made our state the first to pass term limits and did so based on their frustration with the fact that very bad politicians could stay in power by attempting to direct largess to their constituencies who were then less likely to vote them out of office.
  As a member of the House of Representative, I have had a front row seat to see wave after wave of politicians hit the term limit wall of 12 years. It's very difficult for these individuals to reach that wall without having been co-opted in some way. I have concluded that 12 years in office provides an excellent stopping point for keeping citizen legislators from transitioning into co-opted career politicians.
  I enjoyed the opportunity to be the House author of the bill which successfully sought to apply the term limits concept to statewide elected officials and have thus cared greatly about this topic.
  It's time for term limits to take the next step. So far county government hasn't experienced the benefits of term limits reform. Several days ago, the Government Modernization Committee approve the plan to apply the 12 year term limit to county officials as well.
  Notably, commissioners are much better positioned than their legislative counterparts to use their power to stay in office.
  Commissioners have direct access to the resources of the county, with few checks and balances to stop them from rewarding supporters and punishing enemies. This puts each commissioner's constituency in a very precarious position. They may be afraid to publicly oppose a co-opted commissioner who could withhold much needed resources from their area. Those trapped under the tyranny of a co-opted commissioner may realize he has locked down a strong support base by providing favors and special treatment to a majority at the expense of the minority. For these individuals, the application of term limits would provide a welcome relief.
  That's just part of what makes this proposal so very important.
  You may recall the famous quote, “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” People are not naturally equipped to be career politicians. Constantly being treated like a VIP and feeling important ruins many good people. It's almost impossible to withstand the tremendous pressure of the constant limelight to which many politicians become addicted. To feed this addiction, they become co-opted by, and hostages to, their own pride, selfish ambition, situational ethics, cynicism, greed, special interests and narcissism. Their previously held values and principles become secondary to this array of highly corrupting factors.
  Many elected officials succumb to these temptations, whether it is at the state or county level.
It may take a while to win final approval for the term limits proposal but until that time voters are well advised to provide extremely intensive scrutiny to any official who attempts to stay in office beyond a 12-year time period. 

"I'm worried that several years
from now, after the fear factor dies
down, that the fundamental
reforms will have never been done"
U.S. Attorney, Bill Price - 1984

The FBI's largest local government scandal ever, was the shameful Oklahoma County Commissioner Scandal. It was uncovered by IRS agents in 1980. By the end of 1984, over 250 people were sentenced for kickbacks and money laundering. Almost every Oklahoma county was harmed by the corruption. Mostly, it was disguised as infrastructure spending. Taxpayers saw a drop of about 40% in county costs when the initial federal action was completed.
U.S. Attorney, Bill Price, was a lead prosecutor in the crackdown. He later ran for governor, but was defeated by David Walters, who later confessed to kickback corruption in his campaign financing.
  At the summation of the case, he said "many, many" other suspects were given the same offer to cooperate "but they chose to protect their friends."

Price said; "laws allowing for a statewide grand jury or a multi-district investigation overlapping the jurisdictions of several district attorneys are necessary if Oklahoma is to be able to keep its own house clean."
"Some of our best cases would have been totally unprosecutable by the state because they involved kickbacks in, say, 10 or more counties," Price said.
"There have been some reforms, but I'm worried that several years from now, after the fear factor dies down, that the fundamental reforms will have never been done," Price said.
"If there is corruption in the future, no doubt we'd be willing and able to go back in again," Price said, adding that with the reforms he's calling for, the next prosecutions "could be handled successfully by the state."
Further reading:
Newspaper article of unfolding scandal
History of Oklahoma Scandals