(Update: On Tuesday, June 28, Scott Esk and Gloria Banister advanced to the GOP primary runoff, which will occur on Aug. 23.)
Rep. Collin Walke (D-Oklahoma City) opted not to run for reelection after six years in the State House. Three Republicans are running in the House District 87 GOP primary to replace him. One of them, Scott Esk, has stated on Facebook that gay people are “worthy of death.”
The winner of the primary will face Ellyn Hefner, the lone Democrat in the race, in November. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 28 primary, the top two finishers will go head to head in a runoff on Aug. 23.
House District 87 covers east-central Oklahoma County, including Springdale and Bush Hills.
The following overview of the Republican candidates is derived from publicly available information and candidates are presented in alphabetical order. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 28.
Town: Oklahoma City
Background: According to her website, Banister was raised in Oklahoma City. She and her husband own and operate I-44 Riverside Speedway, a sprint-car racetrack. She also owns and manages an organic produce farm and a small beef cattle operation. They formerly owned Banister’s Garage, now the site of Becks’ Garage, on Western Ave. Banister studied nursing at Oklahoma City University and earned her undergraduate degree from Southern Nazarene University. She has been an active volunteer with organizations such as Feed the Children, Meals on Wheels and the suicide hotline.
Platform: Not much regarding Banister’s platform is available online. She has said on facebook that intends to create “a huge shift” in how mental illness and and drug addiction are handled, although she does not mention what policies she has in mind to combat them. She has also posted about supporting congressional term limits and free speech for all.
Town: Oklahoma City
Background: Esk worked for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety from 1999 to 2011, when he was terminated after sending threatening messages to the pastor and an elder at the 84th Street Church of Christ. Esk made the threats because the pastor and elder supported Esk’s ex-wife after she filed for divorce, behavior Esk called “unscriptural.” According to court documents, among other harassing behaviors, Esk would “often ride his bicycle by the home of [the church elder] in the evenings and shout in passing, ‘Repent!'”
According to the court record for a protective order filed against Esk in 2010 by the Church of Christ pastor, Harry Osborn, Esk called the court in December 2013 to ask when the protective order expired. A court employee told him that he owed court costs in the case and Esk responded that he “didn’t care.”
According to his LinkedIn, Esk is now a self-employed courier through uShip, and he previously carried mail and packages for FedEx and the USPS. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in French and Russian. Esk later received an associate’s degree in computer programming from Oklahoma City Community College. He unsuccessfully ran for House District 91 in 2014.
Platform: In 2014, Esk called homosexuality “worthy of death” and said stoning gay people would be “totally in the right.” Esk told The Moore Daily, a publication which has since been integrated into MooreMonthly.com, “I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law,” but he declined to comment on whether or not he would support a measure making homosexuality a crime punishable by death if it were presented in the Legislature. In a Tweet written on June 17, 2022, Esk said that he “rejects being ‘proud’ or having ‘pride’ because of the kind of perversion that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were put to death directly by God for.”
Esk has said that divorce should be “exceedingly difficult” to obtain and that ending a marriage should be seen as “scandalous.” He calls gun ownership a “God-given right” and promises to write and support nullification laws in the case of federal firearms restrictions. Esk says he views taxation as a necessary evil and that tax revenue should only be used on “things that citizens agree are needed.” He states that tax revenue should not be spent on education. He describes himself as first a Christian, second a Constitutionalist, and third a Republican.
Town: Oklahoma City
Background: Not much information about Walker is available online, but, according to an article published by the Oklahoma City Free Press, she helps run her family’s farm in Western Oklahoma. Her Facebook page also reveals that she is passionate about supporting animal shelters in the OKC metro area. She previously challenged Walke in 2020, but she lost that election by 20.4 percent of the vote.
Platform: Walker describes herself as pro-life and pro-gun. In 2021, she called to boycott Major League Baseball after the league moved its All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to Georgia passing a restrictive voting law. In a Facebook Live video, Walker said that constituents of House District 87 have told her they fear they will lose their “freedoms,” although she did not specify which freedoms. She said that if elected, she would fight to defend individual liberties.