Oklahoma gets a bad reputation (not entirely undeserved) for low voter turnout. This year, voters also have been faced with an election Every Single Month, with special elections, propositions, and/or runoffs occurring throughout the year.
While this may cause fatigue and seem dismal, there are people out there doing the work to get people educated and ready to vote.
And this time around, we saw results!
First off, major elections this month included Oklahoma County Clerk, Oklahoma City Council Ward 5 in South OKC, and Ward 5 in Norman. In addition, Edmond voted for their Mayor. City councils, school boards, and bond proposals across the state were also featured on Oklahoma ballots.
The county clerk race was between two candidates: Maressa Treat and Derrick Scobey, the winners of the primary in February.
CAIR, Let’s Fix This, OK Progress Now and many other organizations helped push on social media to talk about what the county clerk does and profiles of the candidates involved.
A severely underdiscussed position, the clerk is responsible for county records and has a seat on the Oklahoma County Budget Board. This board is responsible for how federal funds are spent in the county, as well as the budget of the Oklahoma County Jail and sheriff’s office.
Maressa Treat, a former finance director for U.S. Senator James Lankford and the current wife of President Pro Tempore Sen. Greg Treat, ended up taking the seat. However, despite the endorsements of U.S. Senators James Lankford and Markwayne Mullin, Governor Stitt, and Lt. Gov Matt Pinell, as well over double the amount of campaign funding, the margin between Treat and her opponent was still fairly narrow.
Treat beat out opponent Derrick Scobey with 21,994 to his 20,416 (51.86% to 48.14%) Scobey is a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church and a member of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority which oversees the county jail.
All things considered, this is a vast improvement for voter turnout and engagement for an otherwise forgotten and neglected position. Furthermore, it shows a tremendous victory for Scobey’s campaign as he was facing a political heavyweight in terms of notoriety.
This election saw a much larger turnout than the previous in February, which only had a total of 28,361 voters cast their ballot.
Ward 5- Oklahoma City
In Oklahoma City’s Ward 5, Matt Hinkle and Thuan Nguyen rematched in a runoff election following February’s results that left them 178 votes apart.
Ward 5 is home to 85,000 people, and the primary in February saw 3,191 voters participate. At the time neither candidate got the required 50 percent.
This round, Hinkle ended up with 1,857 (50.48%) votes, with Nyugen at 1,822 (49.52%). That is 35 votes. The next time someone says their vote does not matter, there is ample proof to the contrary. A mere three dozen people affected the outcome of over 80,000 residents’ lives in Ward 5.
Ward 5- Norman
In an even narrower margin, Norman City Council saw another rematch with the slimmest victories. In an area encumbered by concerns of turnpike construction and water management, Michael Nash took back his previously held seat from Rarchar Tortorello by 28 votes. (984 votes to 956). Tortorello previously ousted Nash from the same seat in 2021.
Ward 1 & 2- Edmond
A unique aspect in Edmond is that all voters can cast ballots in general elections for every City Council ward. Tom Robbins took Ward 1 6,030(52.71%) to opponent Ashley Bradley who had 5,4111 (47.29%). Ward 2 was won by Barry Moore with 5,967 (50.68%) who faced Judy Rau 5,806 (49.3%).
Incumbent Mayor Darrell Davis faced reelection on Tuesday as well, securing his seat 6,479 (51.99%) to 5,983 (48.01%) votes. Mayor Davis was first elected in May 2021 as the city’s first Black Mayor. He has also been a supporter of our Muslim community, speaking at CAIR Oklahoma’s Annual Banquet. His opponent, Brian Shellem, is the president of Advanced Automotive Equipment. Shellem also lead a lawsuit against Edmond Public Schools COVID 19 quarantine policy.
Several school boards across the state held elections, including 25 school bond proposals.
Edmond: Jamie Underwood for Edmond Public Schools District 3 received 1,965 (58.14%) votes over competitor Dr. Jerry Childs 1,415 (41.86%).
Tulsa: Tulsa School Board of Education will keep District 1’s representative and chair Stacey Wolley. Following election results, Wolley reaffirmed her support to teaching “real history, protecting 2SLGBTQIA+ students and their families and for keeping books on library shelves”. The vote total was 1,508 (68.27%) to Jared Bushwell’s 701 (31.73%).
This does not cover all of the school board, city council, and bond proposals that were voted on. However, these cases show that elections are important.
Vote! (Or run for office)
So many decisions were made by a handful of votes. And these spots have immense impact on daily policy and operations in our communities. While voter turnout was low across the state, in some towns, fewer than a hundred votes total were cast.
Some elections were won by such narrow margins with near impossible odds, which also shows a great opportunity for people who may not be happy with the candidates they see across the state. Not all seats require thousands of dollars in funding. Some are won by merely showing up.
Voting matters, at all levels. Many people do not get access to the ballot and do not have the chance to help shape their community with these choices. Change happens from the bottom up. City councils and school boards make measures that impact us directly. These decisions are also easier to organize around or get involved with.
However, choosing not to vote, is choosing not to use your voice. It’s also choosing not to support your neighbor who may not get to vote. These elections show how every ballot counts, and how easy it could be to have your own name on a ballot.