One year from today, Oklahomans will head to the polls to conclude the 2022 election cycle. While races for governor, U.S. senator and other statewide elected offices are already beginning to receive most of voters’ attention, local elections with enormous influence will be on 2022 ballots as well.
Oklahoma City and Norman voters will participate in mayoral elections Feb. 8, with runoffs set for April 5 if necessary. Elections for county offices will follow the statewide election schedule of a June 28 primary, an Aug. 23 runoff and a Nov. 8 general election.
The following post details candidates who have already announced for 2022 local elections.
At least three competitive races are expected in Oklahoma County: one for district attorney and two for county commissioner. Beyond its inherently influential nature as leader of the state’s largest county’s prosecutorial arm, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office also holds unique jurisdiction over state and legislative officials whose conduct and actions occur within Oklahoma County.
Candidates for district attorney and district judge are required to form campaign committees with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Other county office-seekers register with and report to their county election board.
Kevin Calvey becomes GOP’s 4th Oklahoma County DA candidate
Incumbent Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater is not seeking reelection, but a member of his office is one of four people (so far) seeking to replace his boss. All four are running as Republicans.
Gayland Gieger announced his candidacy for Oklahoma County District Attorney earlier this year. Gieger has worked in the district attorney’s office since 1999, serving as the lead prosecutor for sex crimes and child abuse cases. In addition, he has won convictions in 50 murder cases, according to his website.
Attorney Robert Gray announced his intention to run for district attorney in April. Gray is an Edmond resident and earned his juris doctorate at Oklahoma City University. He previously worked for the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office after graduating from law school in 2003, according to his website. He has worked in private practice for the last 12 years, and he is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation.
Oklahoma City defense attorney Jacqui Ford has also formed an Ethics Commission committee to run for DA. On her website, Ford references protecting seniors, domestic violence awareness and court diversion programs as key priorities.
“I will champion much needed and welcome change for all Oklahoma County citizens and families whose lives are touched by the criminal justice system and the injustices experienced by so many,” Ford says on her site.
Today, incumbent Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey also announced his candidacy for DA. A former state representative and JAG officer, Calvey has been in politics for nearly three decades, twice losing campaigns for Congress and once threatening to set himself on fire over a court ruling about an anti-abortion bill.
In his announcement, Calvey pledged to drop the manslaughter charges Prater filed against five OKCPD officers related to the death of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez.
“My first day in office, I will dismiss those charges and other wrongful charges against law enforcement, and open an investigation as to how such bogus charges could have happened,” Calvey said in a press release. “The current DA’s hand-picked successor, Gayland Gieger, lacks the moral courage to stand up to his boss on this malicious prosecution of police officers.”
Calvey serves on the Oklahoma County jail trust, which is under consideration by a new Oklahoma County grand jury. In 2021, Calvey visited the State Capitol and presented a bill on behalf of a state representative that would have prohibited a district attorney from investigating county officials if they have previously provided them legal representation and that would have allowed county commissioners to hire private legal counsel instead of relying on a district attorney’s office.
In 2019, Calvey drew criticism for being registered as a lobbyist for an anti-abortion group while simultaneously visiting the State Capitol in his capacity as a county commissioner. Calvey has long advocated for conservative social issues and against tax increases, voting against the historic 2018 revenue package that funded teacher pay raises.
Calvey leaves Oklahoma County Commissioner District 3 open
The Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners District 3 seat spanning north Oklahoma City and Edmond is currently held by Kevin Calvey. A pair of Democrats had already announced their challenges of Calvey’s reelection, but his announcement today means the race will no longer feature an incumbent.
Democrat Jay Bridwell announced his candidacy for the seat in June. Bridwell currently serves as support services director at the Homeless Alliance. In his announcement on Twitter, Bridwell said he was running to improve mental health and substance abuse assistance and to address homelessness in the county.
Fellow Democrat Cathy Cummings announced her candidacy for Oklahoma County Commissioner District 3 in July. Cummings is a member of the Village City Council and an Oklahoma City restaurateur. She has also served as The Village’s mayor and vice mayor. Cummings said on her website that she opposes using federal AARPA funds to pay for a new county jail. In 2014, she was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and received 31.5 percent of the vote against incumbent Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb.
With Kevin Calvey out of the race, conversations will develop in conservative circles regarding potential Republican alternatives. Three days after this post’s publication, Calvey’s assistant, Myles Davidson, announced his campaign Nov. 11 for the District 3 seat. Davidson has also worked previously for District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan.
Blumert will try to hold Oklahoma County Commissioner District 1
Former Sen. Anastasia Pittman announced she would be running for Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners District 1 against incumbent Carrie Blumert.
Pittman was the Democratic Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor in 2018, receiving 34.5 percent of the vote. Pittman was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2006 to 2013 and then served in the State Senate from 2014 through 2018. While in the Oklahoma Legislature, she was a leader of the Legislative Black Caucus. Pittman is currently a General Council representative in the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma representing the Dosar Barkus Band, one of the tribe’s two Freedmen bands.
Blumert won election to the Board of County Commissioners in 2018. Prior to that, she worked for the Oklahoma City-County Health Department managing partnerships and community-based programs, according to her website. She also worked for Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma.
Pittman’s decision to challenge Blumert in a Democratic primary underscores the view of some in the county’s Black community that District 1 is a key seat for ensuring representation in local government. It is possible that another prominent Black politician in Oklahoma County will join the race as well.
District 1 includes central and east Oklahoma City, Spencer, Midwest City, Del City, Jones, Luther and Forrest Park. County Commissioners are paid $127,637.50 per year, following raises in 2020.
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Stein running again for Oklahoma County assessor
Oklahoma County Assessor Larry Stein announced his intent to run for reelection in a September Facebook post. He was first elected to office in 2018. Stein worked for 17 years for Oklahoma County managing budgets, technology purchases and working with vendors on legal issues, according to his website. The Midwest City native has also been involved in radio and television journalism during his career.
Holt facing two challengers so far for OKC mayor
Incumbent Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt won election in 2018 by a wide margin after previously serving in the Oklahoma State Senate. He succeeded longtime Mayor Mick Cornett and has governed as a bit of a centrist, to the pleasure of some and the frustration of others.
Heading into his first mayoral reelection effort in February, Holt has amassed a significant war-chest so far, with more than $616,000 raised. Holt has presided over the successful campaign for the $1 billion MAPS 4 package, which was approved by voters in 2019.
While official candidate filing is set for Dec. 6 through Dec. 8, two men have already announced challenges to Holt: Jimmy Lawson and Frank Urbanic.
Lawson is currently the director of permitting services at the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission and is an economics and finance professor at Rose State College. He is also an advocate for, and life-long friend of, death-row inmate Julius Jones, according to his website.
Urbanic is an Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney and veteran who has been heavily critical of coronavirus mitigation efforts in Oklahoma City. If elected, Urbanic said he will make police funding a priority and will not shut down businesses in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, according to his website.
Clark facing three challengers for Norman mayor
Norman Mayor Breea Clark will seek reelection in the city’s Feb. 8 mayoral election after a tumultuous first term. While official candidate filing is set for Dec. 6 through Dec. 8, Clark has already drawn three announced challengers: Larry Heikkila, Dr. Nicole Kish and Bob Thompson.
Heikkila is a former city employee and longtime Norman resident. Kish is a local optometrist and a co-founder of Unite Norman, a group that attempted but failed to cause a recall election for Clark in 2020. Thompson is a former member of the Norman City Council who owns Midway Deli, a local eatery and hotspot for live music and progressive political gatherings in central Norman.
Clark announced her reelection campaign in a YouTube video April 7, stating, “As your mayor, our community has been through a lot.”
“Before 2020 began, we made great efforts to invest in our future,” Clark said in the video. “From supporting public transportation to investing in public health, we look to the future and imagine what our community could become and the services it could provide for residents.”
Heikkila became Clark’s first challenger, announcing his campaign in July and telling The Norman Transcript that he “chose to run for mayor at a time when the city needs to be united by elected officials who will give everyone a voice.”
Heikkila told The Transcript that he wants to see the Norman Police Department become fully staffed after the city reallocated $865,000 from the NPD’s proposed budget increase, resulting in nine positions being unfilled.
A 22-year Norman resident, Kish told The Transcript she is a Canadian immigrant and a self-identified conservative. Like Heikkila, she said she plans to return the reallocated funds to NPD if elected.
“We’re not going to be able to attract businesses here if we don’t have a safe city,” Kish told The Transcript. “I definitely want to refund the police department and get them up to speed, because public safety is important.”
If elected, Kish would join her partner and Ward 5 Councilman Rarchar Tortorello on the Norman City Council. The Transcript article regarding Kish’s September announcement questioned whether the couple’s potential joint service on the Council would qualify as a conflict under the Norman City Charter, but Kish said that would not be the case.
“Rarchar and I have known each other for a little over a year, but we’re independent thinkers,” she said. “We come from different backgrounds. I’ve run a business for 22 years in this city, so I’ve definitely got my opinions about how this city should be run. I think it should be run like a business. We love each other, yes, but love is love and business is business.”
Kish made headlines for attending the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt in Washington, and when Norman residents circulated photos of her at the U.S. Capitol, she filed a lawsuit alleging defamation. She claimed that social media posts critical of her political behavior cost her 53 long-standing clients.
Thompson was the fourth candidate for Norman mayor to announce his intentions, saying in a YouTube video that he intends “to take serious steps to ensure that our policy-making process reflects the values we share as a community.”
“Many of you know me as ‘Midway Bob’ because I have owned the Midway Deli for 36 years. I’ve also chaired the Charter Review Commission, served two terms on City Council and raised three daughters here,” Thompson said. “Recently, local issues have taken a backseat to national politics in our community. As a 40-year resident and a longtime business owner, I know this is a mistake.”
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn unopposed so far
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn ousted an incumbent Republican in a 2006 primary. Mashburn has registered a campaign committee to seek his fifth term in office. So far, no one has filed a committee to challenge him for the Cleveland County office.
(Correction: This article was updated at 1:35 p.m., Monday, Nov. 8, to correct reference to the district for which Cummings has announced her campaign and to provide information from Ford’s website. It was updated a final time at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, to include Davidson’s announcement.)