New Kingfisher County sheriff takes office early

Thursday, November 25th 2004, 6:06 am
By: News On 6

KINGFISHER, Okla. (AP) -- Kingfisher County's new sheriff has been sworn in more than one month early following the resignation of the man he defeated for the job.

Sheriff Dennis Banther was sworn in Monday after former Sheriff Danny Graham resigned due to residency questions.

Banther, elected on Nov. 2, was not supposed to take office until January. He was appointed to the job by Kingfisher County commissioners and sworn in after he obtained the required bond.

Graham's residency became an issue after he moved from the county following his defeat in the primary election after four terms.

In a public letter, Graham said he was looking for employment somewhere else when his wife was transferred by her employer to Oklahoma County.

Graham sold his house and purchased a home in Edmond but continued to perform his job as sheriff. Graham told Kingfisher County officials he researched the question with the State Auditor and Inspectors Office.

Graham later rented a home in Kingfisher County and said he would continue to live there until the end of his term. But he submitted his resignation effective Nov. 19.

Bob Klein of the State Auditor and Inspectors Office said state law says an office becomes vacant when the officeholder ceases to be a resident of the state or district he or she represents.

Definitions of residency differ, he said, and do not require an officeholder to be a property owner. County commissioners had the option of setting a special election or appointing a replacement, which they did when Banther was sworn in.

Banther said Wednesday that Sgt. Eldon Dickson was named undersheriff when the former undersheriff resigned to pursue his personal business. Other staff members were retained, and one new deputy was hired, Banther said.

"It's the same staff that Danny had," he said. "We've got a lot of experience in this office, and I'm keeping it."