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Remembering Commissioner Costello's Accomplishments While In Office

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The death of Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello Sunday night has brought intense focus to the nightmarish circumstances of the incident, the mental illness that apparently plagues his son, and the reaction to it all from officials near and far. The death of Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello Sunday night has brought intense focus to the nightmarish circumstances of the incident, the mental illness that apparently plagues his son, and the reaction to it all from officials near and far.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The death of Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello Sunday night has brought intense focus to the nightmarish incident, the mental illness that apparently plagues his son, and the reaction to it all from officials near and far.

What has not received much attention is just what the late labor commissioner accomplished during his four and a half years in office.

In many of the statements of condolence, Costello was praised for his conservative fiscal policies, and that was, indeed, the hallmark of his tenure, according to those who knew him.

8/23/2015 Related Story: State Leaders Remember State Labor Commissioner Mark Costello

Costello was a champion of consolidation and reform, and seemed intent not only on looking out for the state's wage earners, as his job required, but also on trying to save taxpayer dollars.

Costello came to public service after a successful career in the private sector, where he founded several telecommunications companies.

He ran for labor commissioner in 2010 and defeated incumbent Lloyd Fields by a wide margin.

Those familiar with the state labor department said Costello deserves credit for several accomplishments, beginning with passage of worker's compensation reform in 2013, taking Oklahoma from a judicial to an administrative system.

Costello pursued policies of workers' rights and freedom of association, which sometimes put him at odds with unions, and yet his opponents still admired him, for the civil and spirited way in which he enjoyed debating the issues.

Observers said he put his money where his mouth was when it came to downsizing government.

"In 2010, he talked about right-sizing and he meant it," said Pat McGuigan, a former deputy labor commissioner. "This guy did not grow government -- he made it smaller and he did the job even better than the agency was doing when he came in."

Costello did not take all of his salary, and, at one point, called on all elected officials to freeze their salaries for 10 years. Costello used his own vehicle for work-related travel, and, according to those who knew him, never looked at public service as a way to feather his nest.

The consensus of those who knew him, personally or professionally, is that he was a man of integrity.

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