Cathy Cummings
Cathy Cummings, a candidate for the Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners District 3 and current Village City Council member, is continuing her campaign despite The Village being moved into a new district. (Facebook)

Despite a redistricting vote that shifted her home of 20 years into a different district for the Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners, Cathy Cummings isn’t giving up her latest campaign.

A member of The Village City Council who has also been mayor and vice mayor of that city, Cummings announced her candidacy for Oklahoma County Commissioner District 3 six months ago.

But Cummings, who owns and operates Vito’s Ristorante in Oklahoma City, found herself on the outside looking in Thursday after commissioners voted for a redistricting map that takes The Village out of District 3 and puts it into District 1. That seat is currently held by Carrie Blumert, a fellow Democrat who is running for re-election and already has a declared Democratic challenger, former Sen. Anastasia Pittman.

“I think they expected me to give up and go home,” Cummings told NonDoc.

Instead, Cummings is now planning to continue her District 3 campaign from a residence inside the newly drawn district.

“I would keep my house in The Village,” she said. “The lines go up up to 122nd Street, which is not that far from where I live now. It’s not like I have to move 50 miles away.”

District boundaries are generally redrawn every 10 years following the census, though the county’s website says the boundaries are current as of Oct. 1, 2001, more than 20 years ago. Owing to the adjusted districts around the state, the Oklahoma Legislature approved a measure extending until Dec. 31 the deadline for 2020 county commissioner candidates to meet their residency and voter registration requirements.

The current District 1 lost about 18,000 residents over the last decade. In redrawing the maps this year, commissioners’ hired consultant was instructed to keep each district as close in population size as possible and to keep road miles as equal as possible between the districts, commissioners said last week during redistricting meetings.

Cummings said she she was disappointed but not surprised at the outcome of the redistricting meetings.

“I didn’t think about it when I started my campaign,” she said. “But probably a month or so before last week’s meetings, I started to see it as a possibility. When the agenda came out on Monday, I knew I had to go and fight for my city to stay in District 3 where it has been for so long. But once the agenda came out on Thursday, when they were going to vote, and I saw only one (proposed) map left The Village in District 3, I knew it was going to happen.”

‘I think we can still do this’

After meeting with her campaign committee, Cummings said she feels more optimistic about her chances to win the race.

“We got a copy of the new map and went through the new district literally precinct by precinct to see if I could still win,” she said. “We looked at the race between Drew Edmondson and Kevin Stitt and how those numbers looked, and Drew did very well winning many of the precincts in the new district, so I think we can still do this.”

When Cummings declared her candidacy, District 3 incumbent Commissioner Kevin Calvey was expected by many to seek reelection. But Calvey’s announcement earlier this month that he is running for district attorney means the commissioner seat is wide open. So far, Calvey assistant Myles Davidson is the only declared Republican for the seat, and mental health professional Jay Bridwell has also announced his campaign as a Democrat.

Cummings said she believes The Village was cut out of its previous district to make her ineligible for the office. She cited her vocal opposition to using AARPA and other funds to build a new Oklahoma County Jail. She also said District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan and Calvey, who are both Republicans, want to continue to dominate the three-member board with their policies. Blumert is the lone Democrat.

“Right now, they usually get what they want,” Cummings said. “I consider myself a reasonable person who will look at the money being spent whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican. I don’t want to slash everything. But me having a seat, I think that scares them a little bit because I’ve been very vocal about not spending a half-billion dollars on a new jail. I’m not saying we don’t need a new jail, but what is needed right now is a mental health facility. It’s going to take four to six years to build a new jail. We need solutions right now.”

Maughan: ‘This was the most transparent way I knew to do it’

Maughan, the District 2 commissioner reelected in 2020 with 57 percent of the vote, said the county’s redistricting process was as transparent as possible.

“We can’t talk outside of an open meeting, so its difficult when you’re doing something as personal as re-drawing district lines that affect not only the commissioners but also the community leaders in the municipalities in between,” Maughan told Fox 25 after the meeting.

He said the discussion of district boundaries in a public meeting was a first of its kind.

“This was the most transparent way I knew to do it, which was to draw the lines in an open meeting,” Maughan said. “I don’t think that’s been done before in Oklahoma County. I think always before there were just some block maps there were done by an arbitrator and your options were for the most part to was to accept one of the three because they couldn’t count the population totals right on the spot. Thanks to technology we can do that.” 

The newly redrawn districts also allow Maughan to move into a northwest Oklahoma City home bequeathed to him by his deceased aunt this year. Prior to redistricting, that home was not in his district.

Cummings said the irony of her being forced to move to continue her campaign, while a sitting commissioner pushes to have his district’s boundaries redrawn so he can live in an inherited home, is thick.

“Have you ever heard of a candidate six months out having their district moved?” Cummings said. “Just because Brian Maughan wants to live in Quail Creek shouldn’t take away my ability to run in the place where I’ve lived for the past 20 years. Politicians shouldn’t choose their voters, we the people should.”

Bridwell wanted ‘independent committee,’ Davidson trusted process

Jay Bridwell
Jay Bridwell

While candidate filing is not until April, Cummings is expected to face at least one opponent in the District 3 Democratic primary: Homeless Alliance director of support services Jay Bridwell.

Bridwell, who announced his campaign in June, told NonDoc that he is unaffected by the redistricting boundary other than “having to knock on more doors.”

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Bridwell said he was not shocked to see how the Oklahoma County redistricting process ultimately unfolded in recent weeks.

“Surprised I was not based on the previous policies and behavior of Commissioner Maughan and Commissioner Calvey,” Bridwell said. “I think it should have gone to an independent committee. That takes the politics out of it.”

Myles Davidson
Myles Davidson

Myles Davidson, who currently serves as Calvey’s chief deputy and who has previously worked for Maughan, announced his candidacy as a Republican on Nov. 16.

Davidson said he believes the redistricting process worked well and that he is looking forward to the 2022 campaign.

“As a candidate for District 3 in Oklahoma County, I’m looking forward to taking my conservative message of building and maintaining a solid infrastructure, encouraging economic growth with an eye on fiscal responsibility, and the safety and security of our community by supporting all law enforcement to the voters,” Davidson said.

Calvey and Maughan have both endorsed Davidson for District 3, according to his press release announcing his campaign.