Dozens of local jurisdictions across Oklahoma held public votes during the Sept. 14 special election. Lawton re-elected its mayor, Coweta approved a sales tax and the community of Bethel Acres in Pottawatomie County authorized the creation of a town charter after reportedly realizing it did not have one.
On the education front, 18 public school districts asked their residents to authorize the issuance of bonds to finance projects, with 13 districts seeing their proposals approved. Four districts saw voters fail to approve the proposed projects, and one district — Graham-Dustin Public Schools in Okfuskee and Hughes counties — saw voters split their ballots, approving one bond issue but not a second.
Meanwhile, 73 percent of Coweta voters approved a 1-cent sales tax, Kingfisher voters filled a commissioner position, Okmulgee County voters moved the ball forward on filling a commissioner seat, and the town of Pawnee elected a new mayor.
Details about those elections and others can be found below. For full results from the Sept. 14 special election, visit the Oklahoma State Election Board.
14 out of 18 school districts approve bonds
About $74 million in bond issuances were approved by voters of 14 Oklahoma school districts during the Sept. 14 special election.
According to state law, bond propositions must receive a supermajority of at least 60 percent of the vote in order to be approved. Districts leverage future property tax revenues to issue bonds for the financing of capital or infrastructure projects.
Out of the 18 school districts with bond issues on the ballot, 14 districts — Hugo, Valliant, Maysville, Lindsay, Wetumka, Tishomingo, Oak Grove, Checotah, Inola, Beggs, Pawnee, Ada, Graham-Dustin and Collinsville Public Schools — had propositions pass.
The largest bond proposal approved — about $24.5 million — narrowly met the voter threshold with 60.8 percent support from Tishomingo Public Schools residents. Located in Johnston County, the district will build new classrooms at the elementary school and a new high school.
Beggs Public Schools, located in Okmulgee County, saw both of its bond proposals pass, totaling about $5.9 million. The first proposition, for about $5.19 million, passed with 75.6 percent of the vote and will be used for district improvements. This includes athletic facility improvements such as basketball gym scoreboards and lighting and electric upgrades at the softball, baseball and football fields. The proposition will also fund new turf at the track, softball and baseball fields, new uniforms and additional furniture, fixtures and equipment.
The second bond proposition for Beggs Public Schools, totaling $695,000, will be used for transportation equipment.
Four bond proposals failed during the Sept. 14 special election, including propositions at Freedom and Quinton Public Schools.
The largest bond item considered Sept. 14 in Oklahoma proposed $33.5 million for construction of a “state of the art” high school for Silo Public Schools, located in Bryan County. The measure failed by receiving only about 31.5 percent of the vote.
A bond proposal for about $13.58 million at Atoka Public Schools also failed, only receiving about 42.4 percent of the vote. The funds would have been primarily used on a multi-purpose center with an E-sports arena for competitions.
While Graham-Dustin Public Schools did have one bond issue pass, one of them failed. Voters did approve a $95,000 bond issue that will go toward vehicles for student transportation with about 60 percent of the vote. However, a $120,000 bond proposition that would have funded district-wide renovations and remodels failed with only 58.2 percent of Tuesday’s vote.
Incumbent Mayor Stan Booker will keep his job for a second term after voters re-elected him Tuesday night. Booker received 63 percent of the vote. Sherene Williams received 31.3 percent and Palmer Moore earned 5.6 percent.
Booker survived a recall attempt last year over a mask ordinance and restrictions on private businesses. The effort failed to garner enough signatures to qualify for a ballot.
Lawton’s City Council Ward 2 seat will head to a November runoff between Kelly Harris (32.4 percent) and Mark Malone (27.7 percent). Incumbent Councilman Keith Jackson did not seek re-election.
Republican Jarrod Whitehouse defeated Democrat Chris Root by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin in the Creek County Commissioner District 3 race.
Republican incumbent Garvin County District 1 Commissioner Randy Chandler will keep that job for another term after beating Democrat Kevin Foraker Tuesday. Chandler captured 60.4 percent of the vote. Foraker received 39.5.
Geoff Covalt defeated Kaci Farrar by a 68.4 percent to 31.5 percent margin in the city of Kingfisher commissioner’s race. Covalt and Farrar emerged from a three-way race in April that led to Tuesday’s runoff.
Democrat Dan Artussee won his party’s nomination in the Okmulgee County Commissioner District 3 primary. Artussee picked up 64 percent of the vote, with Michael Wallace garnering 24.4 percent. Gerald Bardin received 12 percent.
On the GOP side, Kathy Spears edged Matt Richardson 44.3 percent to 42.4 percent. David Berry received 13.1 percent. No runoff will be held according to county officials.
The general election will be held Nov. 9.
Alice Cottle is Pawnee’s mayor-elect after defeating Mark Brumfield in that race. Cottle captured 58 percent of the vote, while Brumfield picked up 42 percent.
In the town of Asher, residents were tasked with voting for two candidates in a three-way race for a pair of seats on the Board of Trustees.
Robby Mosley received six votes and will join the board. Wesley Culwell Jr. received five votes and will also join the board. No one voted for Kenny Taylor. In 2019, Taylor also filed to seek a position on the board but withdrew his candidacy, ending the need for an election.
Meanwhile, the community of Bethel Acres approved the creation of a town charter under unusual circumstances. From the Countywide News & Sun:
Bethel Acres is looking to frame a charter for its own government. The town has operated for years under the belief that it already had a charter in place. However, this is not the case.
Bethel Acres leaders will now craft the town charter and put its language before voters for a subsequent election.
Voters in Coweta approved a 1-cent sales tax that will provide funding for road and street improvements, water and wastewater improvements and the acquisition of parks maintenance equipment. The tax passed by a 73 percent to 27 percent margin.