Brian Maughan has been the county commissioner for District 2 since 2009. He was elected to the position of Chairman of the Board of Commissioners in 2014. The Oklahoma native grew up in south Oklahoma City and graduated from U.S. Grant High School. Before his election to the county commissioner’s seat, he worked as a public affairs consultant for AT&T and as the director of economic development for District 2. One of Maughan’s most notable accomplishments was co-founding the SHINE campaign, a program that put nonviolent offenders to work cleaning up neighborhoods.
You are a graduate of U. S. Grant High School and Oklahoma City Community College. How did growing up and going to school in Oklahoma City affect your life? What values or principles did the city and your family impart to you?
I grew up in an ordinary neighborhood in south Oklahoma City with parents who both worked, which taught me early on that it was important to do your work well. There was nothing silver spoon about it, and I think that was a benefit. At Grant, I served in student government, and that gave me an appreciation for the value of service. And as a young person, I saw firsthand our city’s response to the Murrah Building bombing, and that impressed upon me how unique and special Oklahoma really is.
How did the community college experience prepare you for work in the real world?
OCCC and other community colleges have a unique faculty structure. At a more “academic” university, you tend to encounter people with a background of studying their subject, but not as much doing. Since so many community college courses are taught by adjuncts, most of the faculty has recent real-world experience in their area of expertise. Most of all, most students there were working while they attended school. You learn to use your time wisely.
You’ve been involved in programs and organizations that tend to focus on less glamorous projects but seem to do genuine good for people who are often overlooked. What motivated you to get involved with the Oklahoma Developmental Disability Council and the Wheelchair Foundation? What do you find most rewarding about it?
My best childhood friend was paraplegic. I was a primary caregiver for him for a number of years until his death. I also lived with and cared for my grandfather during the final years of his life, when his health was in serious decline. I learned from these experiences, especially how just a little bit of help can make a big difference in the lives of those with disabilities. If I can help one family or individual achieve a better quality of life in such cases, I have done my job.
SHINE has been an amazing success, generating a great deal of national interest as well as savings for taxpayers. Where did you come up with this idea? What difficulties di you face in getting it implemented?
It was actually a collaborative effort among several public officials, including the district attorney and the public defender. Here we were, sentencing a lot of low-level offenders to jail time partly because there was no real structured way to have them discharge their debt to society through community service. So we set out to create a more formal structure, and the result was SHINE. Of course, one challenge from the beginning was funding. We have also faced some skepticism by a few other elected officials who always seem scared by a new idea. But SHINE has grown and become a national and even an international model.
Ed. note: Read more about SHINE here.
What changes in OKC have most surprised you, and what changes would you like to see?
Certainly the thriving downtown is a new thing for anyone who grew up here and can remember back to the years after the oil bust. But I think one overriding trend has been what we also need even more of: a growing sense of neighborhood. Lots of people and businesses now think of themselves as residents of Oklahoma City and also in terms of their residential neighborhood. That has spurred the growth of more and more active neighborhood associations. I’ve been honored to work with many of them, and I can tell you that they get things done.
Where are your favorite places to go for dining and entertainment in the metro?
Bedlam Barbecue is great, but my fallback place to eat is Grill on the Hill, which is an old-fashioned diner right in the heart of Capitol Hill. Great food and even greater people. For entertainment, anyone who knows me knows that I am a dedicated music fan in pretty much all genres. I’ve been fortunate to attend concerts by so many great artists, and whenever one announces a show here, I am right at the front of the line to buy tickets.
What are your main activities for unwinding, and where in the state do you like to go for a mini vacation?
Reading and music for unwinding. Visitors to my office in the courthouse often remark about the half-dozen full bookcases, and every year, I take a big cart out to the Friends of the Library book sale to stock up. I have to cross state lines a bit for those mini vacations. I periodically travel to Arkansas to visit my grandmother, who is also a big music fan. Last year, I had the privilege of bringing her here to see George Strait’s farewell concert.