Why Are You Running? Oklahoma Candidates Say Why They’re in the Race – Oklahoma Watch

Why Are You Running? Oklahoma Candidates Say Why They’re in the Race – Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch
Impact Journalism in the Public Interest
Editor’s note: If you are a candidate not mentioned here and want to talk about why you are running this year, you can reach out to Oklahoma Watch reporter Trevor Brown at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org to set up an interview. Answers are planned to be included in a digital voters’ guide that will be updated throughout the year. 
Hundreds of candidates officially joined Oklahoma’s 2022 campaign season by formally filing with the state over last week’s three-day filing period. 
The candidates will now begin making the case to voters why they should be elected later this year. Oklahoma Watch talked with some candidates as they filed their paperwork to see why they want to hold statewide, congressional, legislative or judicial offices. 
Running for: State House District 89 (South Oklahoma City)
Party: Democrat
Why are they running: “My heart is in my community. I grew up in District 89 and hope to bring in a new perspective. I am not a traditional politician. I am actually an engineer and I like to problem solve and build things. I know that our state and our community face a lot of problems and I hope to use my mindset and the people and connections I am making to really make a change.” 
Running for: State House District 55 (Elk City, Sayre, Cheyenne) 
Party: Republican
Why they’re running: “I’ve been the mayor of Elk City for the last two terms and District 55 has an open seat this year, so it felt like the right time to take that step. I think rural health care is important, especially to our smaller communities in western Oklahoma. And the Second Amendment. I’m a firearms manufacturer, so I always protect our Second Amendment.” 
Running for: District Judge, District 14, Office 5
Party: Non-partisan office
Why they’re running: “I’ve been a public servant my whole life. I was fortunate enough to have been appointed to this position, and I just feel like I have a job to do. There are a lot of people in jail who need to be tried and they’re just waiting for their trial. I think I have the judicial experience and temperament to get to them.”
Running for: State House District 48 (Ardmore, Davis, Healdton)
Party: Republican
Why they’re running: “I’m a freedom fighter, an Army veteran and I’ve seen our rights been infringed the last two years. I’ve asked our state representatives to step up and protect us and unfortunately they haven’t. As a constitutional conservative and an Army veteran I know what it means to protect the Constitution.”
Running for: State Senate District 26 (Watonga, Anadarko, Sayre)
Party: Republican 
Why they’re running: “Our governments are fundamentally broken. They no longer represent the people well. We’re killing babies at 5,000 per year. A Republican government is one where the people hold supreme power, and I don’t think you could convince 10% of the state’s population that they hold power in state government. I’d like to see good representation and biblical Christian values implemented in our state government and push back against the D.C. overreach.” 
Running for: Associate District Judge, Beaver County 

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Party: Non-partisan office
Why they’re running: “It’s been over three decades since there has been a judicial decision or race in our county. We’ve always had an appointed judge. I just believe that right now there’s a swelling of people that want to take back our democracy and actually cast votes for the people that represent them. So I’ve chosen to run for judge to give people a chance to have a choice.” 
Running for: State House District 49 (Marietta, Madill, Thackerville)
Party: Republican
Why they’re running: “Our current representative (Tommy Hardin) is term-limited out. He’s been great. We are a rural area and I want to make sure it stays rural. I want rural people to be represented with someone who already knows the issue people have. I’m pro-life, big Second Amendment, transportation and state rights. Those are the big four issues for me.” 
Running for: District Judge, District 7, Office 8 (Oklahoma County)
Party: Non-partisan office
Why they’re running: “I enjoy the work and being on the bench. I think it’s so important to treat everyone with respect and that’s how I conduct business in my courtroom.”
Running for: U.S. Senate 
Party: Democrat
Why they’re running: “We need to protect democracy in this country. They’re carving it away and cutting it out with voter suppression. I watched and I hoped the courts would take care of it and Congress would take care of it, but they haven’t. I am running against Sen. (James) Lankford because he proved on January 6, 2021, that he was a part of the group that wanted to overthrow the government.” 
Running for: State House District 87 (Oklahoma City) 
Party: Democrat 
Why they’re running: “I am a longtime advocate for adopting kids with disabilities. There’s an understanding I have about lack of access to quality mental health care. As an advocate, I understand the budgeting process. Why do we have so many people we pay salaries for but only a few people decide our budget? Public schools have been important to my child, and we need to strengthen public schools.” 
Running for: State House District 42 (Lindsay, Washington, Maysville)
Party: Republican
Why they are running: “The political climate nowadays is where people talk a lot but don’t do a lot, and I just had enough of it. Abortion needs to completely been gone. My second big issue is election integrity. I’m just mad about it.” 
Running for: Governor
Party: Democrat
Why are they running: “I am running to provide the benefit of my over 40 years of experience in the political, legislative process. And to give leadership in the areas that make the difference in all of Oklahomans lives such as education and higher-ed, jobs, infrastructure, health — the need for mental health and competent delivery systems — and the need for the reform of our justice system. Oklahoma is a private prison industrial complex and we cannot sustain that level of funding by criminalizing behaviors that are non-violent. And ultimately (I am running) as an advocate for all of the people in the disparate groups: The veterans, people with disabilities, the unhoused, people dealing with immigration issues, women — especially women in the reproductive ages.”
Running for: Associate District Judge (Marshall County)
Party: Non-partisan office
Why they are running: “I was appointed by Gov. (Mary) Fallin in 2011. I ran in 2014, and again in 2018 and ended up winning an uncontested race in 2018. So, I am hoping I win uncontested this year. This will probably be the last time before I retire.” 
Running for: State Senate District 28 (Lincoln, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties)
Party: Republican
Why they are running: “I want to work on agriculture, education and some tax reform. We need to revitalize our main streets and bring rural communities back to life.”
Running for: State Senate District 28 (Lincoln, Pottawatomie, Logan, Oklahoma, Seminole counties)
Party: Republican
Why they are running: “I think (business) has been overregulated, which has been a big issue. Support for our officers is a big thing and I’m really troubled by the lack of support, even here in Oklahoma.” 

Running for: State House District 63 (South Lawton, Cache, Frederick)
Party: Libertarian 
Why they’re running: “I feel like the current status quo is untenable. That goes for basically any political party. My soul doesn’t want to be a hypocrite. Ultimately, if I were to complain about what’s wrong with my area of society and not do anything about it then I would be a hypocrite. I felt morally compelled to act.”
Running for: District Judge, District 22 (Hughes, Pontotoc and Seminole counties)
Party: Non-partisan office
Why they’re running: “I need one more term to retire. I’ve been at it for 16 years.”

Running for: Associate District Judge (Pawnee County)
Party: Non-partisan office
Why they’re running: “The work is not done in Pawnee County. We haven’t gotten our drug court all the way up and we just started community sentencing, so I want to see that all the way through. We have a lot of programs, including putting prisoners to work inside and outside the jail so taxpayers can get their money’s worth.”
Running for: District Judge, District 7 Office 14 (Oklahoma County)
Party: Non-partisan office
Why are they running: “It’s really important that the public believes that when they appear before a judge, who is oftentimes the last line of defense for them, that they’re getting somebody that is impartial, that’s fair, that’s professional, and that is aware of the issues. I am running for my seat to make sure that impartiality and fairness are the mainstays in courts.” 
Running for: Governor 
Party: Republican
Why are they running: “I looked at the status of the state and thought we need to make a change. There is a lack of accountability from the top and I think our constitutional rights have been violated. I think being a non-politician is exactly what we need. “
Running for: District Judge, District 7, Office 7 (Oklahoma County) 
Party: Non-partisan office
Why are they running: “Because I want to continue to do the job that I love so much. And because I want to serve the people of Oklahoma County.”

Running for: District Judge, Tulsa County (District 14, Office 12)
Party: Non-partisan office
Why they’re running: “I am currently a special judge in Tulsa County. I enjoy serving my community and the constituents of Tulsa County, and I want to continue to do that work as a district judge.” 
Running for: State House District 95, (Oklahoma City/Midwest City) 
Party: Republican
Why they’re running: “It’s been an honor serving the Mid-Del/Tinker (Air Force Base) area, and I feel like there’s still a lot we need to get done to improve education and health care and to deal with the consequences of a lot of bad policies at the federal level.” 
Running for: State Senate District 4 (Sallisaw, Poteau, Vian)
Party: Republican
Why they’re running: “My background is in small business, running a feed store and a farm. What motivated me was to push people to be better financially educated in our schools, to avoid the pitfalls of bad credit. They also need to understand the power of home ownership and saving for retirement.” 

Trevor Brown has been an Oklahoma Watch reporter since 2016. He covers politics, elections, health policies and government accountability issues. Call or text him at (630) 301-0589. Email him at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org. Follow him on Twitter at @tbrownokc

Paul Monies has been a reporter with Oklahoma Watch since 2017. He covers state agencies and public health. Call or text him at (571) 319-3289 or email pmonies@oklahomawatch.org. Follow him on Twitter at @pmonies. 

Lionel Ramos is a Report for America corps member who covers race and equity issues for Oklahoma Watch. Contact him at (210) 416-3672 or lramos@oklahomawatch.org. Follow him on Twitter at @LionelRamos21

Keaton Ross is a Report for America corps member who covers prison conditions and criminal justice issues for Oklahoma Watch. Contact him at (405) 831-9753 or Kross@Oklahomawatch.org. Follow him on Twitter at @_KeatonRoss

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by Trevor Brown, Oklahoma Watch
April 19, 2022
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