(Editor’s note: On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the Oklahoma County Election Board voted to strike Chris Cowden from the Oklahoma City Ward 2 race outlined below. The following article remains in its original format, but a separate story about the board’s decision can be read here.)
The special election to replace former Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten, who resigned in June amid a sexual harassment controversy and bizarre claims about genetic immunity to alcohol and European royalty, has no shortage of willing replacements on tap for the Feb. 14 primary.
Meanwhile, the OKC City Council could see new faces leading some of its eight wards with a host of candidates filing to challenge three incumbents, while an open seat following Ward 5 Councilman David Greenwell’s retirement has drawn three candidates hoping to replace him.
Here’s a look at the OKC City Council and Oklahoma County clerk candidates who filed to run in the Feb. 14 election. Runoffs in the OKC City Council races will be held April 4 if necessary. The county clerk primary election will be held Feb. 14, with the general election set for April 4.
OKC City Council Ward 2
Incumbent Ward 2 OKC Councilman James Cooper drew three challengers. Chris Cowden, Alexander Deshazo and Weston Storey have filed to run in Ward 2, which stretches from Northwest 23rd Street on its southern border to Britton Road. It includes Penn Square Mall and the Paseo Arts District.
Cooper, 40, was first elected in 2019 and has made public transportation and protecting MAPS 4 among his biggest priorities. He currently serves as a teacher and adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University.
Cowden, 44, is making his first run for City Council and owns Cowden Homes, a real estate company based in OKC. He previously worked as the development director for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.
Deshazo, 22, is a graduate of Harding Charter Prep who competed in debate competitions. He does not appear to have an active campaign website or social media presence at this time.
Storey, 32, owns and operates a pest control company based in Oklahoma City. He does not appear to have an active campaign website or social media presence at this time.
On Thursday, one day after the filing period closed, Cooper filed a formal contest of Cowden’s candidate eligibility. Cooper alleged that Cowden was registered to vote at a Nichols Hills address until June 30. OKC City Council candidates must be registered to vote in the Ward they seek to represent for a full year ahead of filing for office.
A hearing has been set with the Oklahoma County Election Board at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13.
OKC City Council Ward 5
Incumbent David Greenwell decided not to run for reelection this year, creating an opening for those looking to stake their claim to the Ward 5 seat. Audra Beasley, Matt Hinkle, Jeff Owen and Thuan Nguyen will be vying for Greenwell’s seat in the Feb. 14 election.
Audra Beasley, 43, is a corporate and estate planning paralegal who opened her own business in 2007 and who volunteers for several Oklahoma City nonprofits.
Thuan Nguyen, 46, came to the United States at age 4 from Vietnam in 1980 with his mother to escape communism, according to his website. Today, he owns his own insurance agency based in OKC.
Jeff Owen, 56, is also among the field of candidates who filed. He does not appear to have an active campaign website or social media presence at this time.
A heavily residential area, OKC Ward 5 is on the city’s south side. It borders Moore to the east and Newcastle on its southwest. It includes Westmoore High School and Earlywine Park.
OKC City Council Ward 6
JoBeth Hamon, 32, has made development of pedestrian infrastructure and affordable housing her biggest priorities since her election in 2019. She currently works for a nonprofit focusing on mental health.
Marek Cornett, 38, is making her first run for office. She owns and operates a small business focusing on digital marketing. She volunteers for several OKC nonprofits and is also the daughter in law of former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
Ward 6 extends from Portland Avenue to the west and to Shields Avenue on its eastern border. It also includes Automobile Alley and Film Row within its boundaries.
OKC City Council Ward 8
Mark Stonecipher, 65, was first elected to the OKC City Council in 2015 and is running for his third term. He has made improving roads, expanding youth sports infrastructure and senior wellness centers among his biggest priorities. He works as an attorney in Oklahoma City.
Amy Warne, 45, currently works as a dietician and volunteers for several nonprofits that focus on food insecurity. She is also a citizen of the Mvskoke Nation, according to her website.
Ward 8 stretches across much of northwest Oklahoma City, including the Putnam City Schools District, Penn Square Mall and the Memorial-Quail Springs area where several companies have corporate headquarters.
Oklahoma County clerk post draws a crowd
There is no shortage of candidates who want to run the Oklahoma County Clerk’s Office and collect its $122,000 salary and benefits in the process. The county clerk is responsible for maintaining records of a county, as well as setting agendas and recording the minutes and votes of county meetings.
Eight people — five Democrats and three Republicans — have filed to run in the special election to replace David Hooten, who resigned in June amid sexual harassment and other allegations from staff at the clerk’s office. At the time, Hooten made several bizarre claims that were captured in a recording while he was describing a proposed team-building exercise that would involve alcohol.
“Just so you all know, I’ve been genetically altered so I don’t get drunk no matter what,” Hooten said in the recording. “They gave me a chemical that changes your brain, because I travel in Europe, and so it actually won’t have an effect on me. But hopefully it has an effect on you all.”
Sean Cummings, Tiffany Ellis, Tom Guild, B.C. Phillips and Derrick Scobey have filed for the Democratic nomination.
Cummings, 59, currently serves as a member of The Village City Council while also operating an OKC-based bar and restaurant. He has advocated for criminal justice issues within the county.
Ellis, 42, works in communications for The Mettise Group in Oklahoma City.
Guild, 68, is making his eighth run for public office since 2010. Most recently Guild, who is a former law professor, ran for county treasurer earlier this year.
Phillips, 37, is making his first run for public office. He currently serves as the communications director for CASA in Oklahoma City. He has also served as Ward 6’s game and fish commissioner since 2019.
Republicans Gloria Banister, Jonathan Clour and Maressa Treat have filed to run for the Republican nomination for county clerk.
Banister, 52, owns an organic produce farm and I-44 Speedway in Oklahoma City. She ran unsuccessfully for House District 87 earlier this year.
Clour, 31, currently serves as the deputy Oklahoma County clerk. He is a minister who ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives District 43 in 2014, losing in a runoff.
Treat, 40, is the director of development for GR Pro, a public affairs and strategic communication firm that sometimes does work for dark money political expenditure efforts in Oklahoma. Treat, who formerly worked for U.S. Sen. James Lankford, is married to Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC).
(Update: This article was updated at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, to include information about James Cooper contesting the candidacy of Chris Cowden.)