Among the many Oklahoma primary elections taking place June 30, the race for Oklahoma County Sheriff may ultimately attract a great deal of attention owing to the atmosphere regarding law enforcement training, use of force and the criminal justice system.
In Oklahoma County, the sheriff’s office is responsible for patrolling rural areas, judicial services and, for not much longer, the Oklahoma County Jail. At the end of June, the Oklahoma County Jail will be in the hands of the new Oklahoma County Jail Trust, created a year ago by the Oklahoma County Commissioners.
Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor was appointed to that jail trust and is aiming for a second term, following his landslide victory in a 2017 special election. However, two other Republicans are vying for his position, and two Democrats are competing to reach the general election.
The following candidate profiles have been compiled from publicly available information. Hours before the publication of this overview, The Oklahoman posted a story discussing recent protests and potential law enforcement reforms featuring comments from the candidates.
Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office at a glance
Current officeholder: Sheriff P.D. Taylor
Municipalities covered: Oklahoma City, Bethany, Choctaw, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Jones, Spencer and more.
P.D. Taylor (R, incumbent)
Experience: P.D. Taylor served in the Oklahoma City Police Department and in the U.S. Army as a sergeant, and he is the current Oklahoma County Sheriff. Taylor also holds a position on the Oklahoma County Retirement Board and the Community Sentencing Board, among entities.
Platform: Taylor is seeking his second term after taking office by winning a 2017 special election to succeed beleaguered longtime Sheriff John Whetsel. According to his campaign Facebook page, one of Taylor’s main priorities includes reinstating an OCSO Warrant Team to serve the more than 30,000 active warrants in the county.
Earlier this year, Taylor fired deputy sheriff Mike McCully, who is running against him, for an alleged “pattern of misconduct that included racism,” according to The Oklahoman.
The Oklahoman reported that the alleged misconduct included an unlawful arrest of an African-American man in February, insubordination, disobedience to the chain of command and misuse of trademarked county images and photographs for campaign purposes.
Taylor won the 2017 Oklahoma County Sheriff special election with 49.9 percent of the vote, totaling to 23,049 votes.
Tommie Johnson III (R)
Experience: Tommie Johnson is a Norman police officer who announced his bid in the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s race in February. Johnson began his career in law enforcement at the University of Oklahoma and joined NPD in 2015. He was promoted to the rank of Master Police and was awarded with the department’s Centennial Award, Fox 25 reported.
Platform: Johnson writes on his campaign site that he is committed to a “new approach that ensures trust and competency.” He states that during his term in office, he would focus on four key themes: safer communities, fiscal responsibility, partnerships and progress.
“I am running to bring new leadership to the Sheriff’s office,” Johnson said, according to Fox25. “As the last few years have made abundantly clear, the old ways of doing things just aren’t getting it done. We need a fresh approach here in Oklahoma County, and it’s time for a new generation of leadership in the Sheriff’s office.”
Mike McCully (R)
Experience: Mike McCully is a former deputy sheriff for Oklahoma County who announced his campaign in January. McCully has been in law enforcement since 1980, with time spent with the Shawnee Police Department as well as the U.S. Navy.
Platform: According to McCully’s campaign site, he aims to “restore faith in the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and rehabilitate the work environment within the department.”
McCuly’s campaign site also states that he wants the new Oklahoma County Jail Trust and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office to work closely together throughout his potential term.
“My predecessor’s administration cultivated ill will within our department towards the newly formed jail trust and the county officials affiliated with it,” McCully states online. “When I am Oklahoma County’s Sheriff, my deputies and staff will know the information passed to our deputies and staff by Sheriff P.D. Taylor and the FOP 155 was misleading and malicious.”
In a statement from McCully’s campaign regarding his firing, he said he was wrongfully terminated for being a whistleblower, according to The Oklahoman. The statement also said McCully was being too vocal about the issues he witnessed for Taylor to tolerate.
Wayland Cubit (D)
Experience: Lt. Wayland Cubit is a 21-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department and has devoted the past 12 years of his career to creating and supporting programs that help at-risk-youth.
Platform: According to his campaign site, Cubit’s platform is based on transparency, accountability, mental health and criminal justice reform.
“Law enforcement intersects with almost every social issue that impacts our community,” his campaign site states. “Under Wayland’s leadership there will be a focus on mental health and providing county residents the help they need in a crisis.”
Cubit spoke to a crowd during the May 31 Black Lives Matter rally in northeast Oklahoma City, and he participated in a June 1 special edition of Ice Event Center‘s After Dark series called Being Black in Blue, which received more than 9,000 views.
Virgil Green (D)
Experience: Virgil Green was a Democratic candidate for Oklahoma County Sheriff in the special primary election of April 2017, falling short of Mike Hanson for the party’s nomination. At the time of his 2017 campaign, Green was the chief of police for Helena-West Helena Police Department in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, according to BallotPedia.
Green has also worked as the chief of police for the Spencer Police Department and the Boley Police Department in Okfuskee County.
Platform: Green’s campaign site says his priorities are focused in three areas: collaboration, community and change. In these areas, he plans on, among others, holding monthly public forums, establishing an effective open records office and creating a prevention-not-punishment policing system.