Dems make case for offices at forum

By Carolyn Cole
Published on June 14, 2008

Four Democrat candidates spoke this week on education, the economy, professionalism and public service at a Canadian County Democrats’ practice forum.

About 30 people turned out to hear the candidates speak. Jody Harlan, with the Canadian County Democrats, said the evening was a warm-up exercise for the county party’s silent auction, bean supper and candidate forum, which will start at 5 p.m. July 19 at Redlands Community College. Tickets are $25.

Harlan said volunteers canvassed state House and Senate districts that include Canadian County as well as local neighborhoods, trying to recruit candidates. Two Democrats filed for the Canadian County Court Clerk’s seat, and four are vying for state House seats.

Harlan said in recent years county elections have been dominated by Republican Party candidates and praised each for volunteering to run for the post.

“This is how you get training and your name out in the community and learn the political process,” she said.

Court Clerk

El Reno resident Sherry Murray promised, if elected, she would be a good custodian of Canadian County’s records and lead the office in a way that maintains integrity and confidentiality.

“I plan to continue to learn and to advance, but most of all I plan to continue for Canadian County in a manner that is not only professional, but in the same manner I was raised, which is to work hard for them and be there when they need me,” she said.

Murray is an El Reno High School and Redlands Community College graduate. She has four children, who are helping her with the campaign. She has worked for seven years in the court clerk’s office, and her current position is assistant supervisor for the civil division.

She will face Democrat Anna Hrdy in a primary election July 29. Hrdy was absent from this week’s event. Two Republicans have also filed for the post — Allen Arnold and Marie Ramsey. Incumbent Dee Ray is retiring.

House District 57

Democrats Perry Adams and Jared Deck will meet in the House District 57 primary, and the winner will face one of four Republican candidates in the general election Nov. 4.

Democrat Floor Leader James Covey of Custer City cannot seek re-election due to term limits. The district includes portions of northwest Canadian County as well as Custer and Blaine counties.

A retired public school superintendent, Adams said his 27-year experience as an educator motivated him to seek the post.

“I ran because I understand the state aid formula for public schools,” he said. “I know there are problems for our part of the state. I know why it’s ineffective for us. I ran because I understand the problems with our roads and bridges.”

Adams said he is also concerned about health care in Oklahoma — the state’s growing number of uninsured and underinsured residents.

In his retirement, Adams is working with an architectural firm helping school officials plan and design bond issues for building projects and also teaching school board training sessions for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. He has three children; his daughter is serving as his campaign manager.

“I want to help our part of the state and Oklahoma as a whole,” he said. “I ran because I believe I have the training for the past 30 years and the ability to accomplish something.”

A lifelong Thomas resident, Deck agreed Oklahomans have many concerns and the Legislature has a lot of tough decisions and work to accomplish.

Deck said he decided to change his life when he was working for a local manufacturer and received a layoff pink slip. Sixty-percent of the jobs at the plant were outsourced to Mexico, he said.

“That was the day I saw faces change, where I saw attitudes change, and I thought to myself if someone is going to do something it had better happen now,” he said.

Deck opened his own business, and he said while it thrived, he saw his friends struggling to pay mortgage payments and health insurance bills with smaller paychecks.

“We have to start developing our infrastructure so we can create those jobs, so we can attract those jobs,” he said. “We can work with the Department of Commerce to bring in quality jobs. They are putting in a Super Wal-Mart in Weatherford and another one in Clinton. You know that is great, it’s retail development. They are talking about how many jobs its going to bring to the area. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to make much of a living of $7.50 an hour.”

Republican candidates who have filed for the seat are Lynn Norman of Clinton, Warren Goldmann of Weatherford, Lyle Miller of Clinton, and Harold Wright of Weatherford.

House District 59

Democrat Donald Russell of Hennessey filed for House District 59, a seat held by Republican Rob Johnson, of Kingfisher, who did not seek re-election to run for Corporation Commissioner. Russell will face one of three Republican candidates in the general election.
House District 59 includes northwest Canadian County, as well as Blaine, Dewey, Kingfisher, Major and Woodward counties.

A cattle rancher, Russell told the audience he started life as a Ronald Reagan Republican, but he didn’t see the economic benefits of the president’s policies.

“That trickle down stuff ain’t happening,” he said.
So he became an independent and later filed as a Democrat.

“You can sit around here and complain about it, or you can get off your tail and do something about it,” he said.

Life has thrown Russell into many different jobs to support his family, he said.

“A lot of those jobs that some people say Americans won’t do,” Russell said. “Seems like I spent a lot of time doing that.”

He said he never expected to run for political office. When the Democrat party volunteers asked him to step forward, Russell said he’d do it if they couldn’t find anybody else.

“I may not be the most polished speaker,” he said. “I won’t stand here and tell you I know everything about politics or government or anything else for that matter. I will tell you this — I’ll do the best that I know how. I will be honest and fair, and I will try to consider everybody in the district.”

Republicans Tim Riddle of Hennessey, Mike Sanders of Kingfisher, and Chris Cameron of Kingfisher also filed for the post.

Other state Canadian County races

-Democrat Harold Jackson, who is vying for the House District 47 post, was absent from the forum. Three Republicans have also filed for the post — Tuttle resident Leslie Osborn and Mustang residents Jane McNeff and John Paul Jordan. The seat is being vacated by Susan Winchester.

-Five Republicans are vying for the Senate District 45 seat, which is held by Kathleen Wilcoxson, who is term limited. District 45 includes parts of the Mustang area and west Oklahoma City. These candidates include Moore resident Marty Gormley and Oklahoma City residents Jerry Foshee, Melinda Daugherty, Steve Russell and Kyle Loveless.

-House District 41 incumbent John Enns, R-Enid, will face Republican Dwain Jindra in the primary. A contest of candidacy was filed against Democrat candidate Noah Ynclan of Enid. Independent Scott Cooper of Lahoma has also filed for the post, which represents sections of Canadian, Garfield, Kingfisher and Oklahoma counties.


Four Canadian County legislators were unchallenged for their seats — Senate District 23’s Ron Justice, R-Chickasha; House District 43’s Colby Schwartz, R-Yukon; House District 55’s Ryan McMullen, D-Burns Flat; and House District 56’s Phil Richardson, R-Minco.

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