After former state Rep. Ryan Martinez resigned from his House District 39 post on Sept. 1, numerous first-time candidates have officially filed for the central Edmond legislative seat this week.
With the filing period ending at 5 p.m. today, nine candidates submitted paperwork for the December special primary election. The field includes seven Republicans — Cris Price, Ross Vanhooser, Kristen Ferate, Erick Harris, Ronda Lee Peterson, William A. Gaige Jr. and Tim Hale — and two Democrats, Regan Raff and Paul Timmons. Richard Prawdzienski, a Libertarian, also filed.
The special primary election is set for Dec. 12, and the special general election is scheduled for Feb. 13, which falls in the second week of the 2024 regular legislative session. In order to cast ballots in Oklahoma, voter registration applications must be submitted 25 days prior to any election — meaning residents of House District 39 must register to vote by Nov. 17 to vote in the special primary.
The House District 39 boundary stretches as far north as Waterloo Road and runs south to 15th Street in Edmond. The district has Bryant Avenue on the eastern boundary and Western Avenue on the western boundary.
Candidates have until 5 p.m. Friday to challenge the eligibility of any of their opponents with the State Election Board, something that has narrowed prior special election fields for open legislative seats.
Seven Republicans file for HD 39
With the primary election less than three months away, several of the candidates who filed for HD 39 this week have already launched campaign websites or distributed press releases. The following information is derived from those sources and social media. Candidates are listed alphabetically.
Kristen Ferate, 45, is a member of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries Board who was appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt. She has served as a member of the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust since August 2022. She is an experienced volunteer and has served several nonprofit organizations, according to her campaign website.
Ferate is pro-life and supports the Second Amendment. She opposes new taxes, government overreach and bureaucratic red tape, her website states.
Ferate’s husband is A.J. Ferate, an attorney at Spencer Fane who formerly served as the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.
Ferate’s priorities on her campaign website are:
- Strengthening the nuclear family;
- Preserving our values;
- Advancing economic opportunity;
- Improving education;
- Opposing Joe Biden’s progressive policies.
William A. Gaige Jr., 47, is an operations manager at M-D Building Products, Inc. He has more than 25 years of experience in trucking, transportation and manufacturing, he said.
“I decided to run for state representative because I feel we need more working-class people in office to truly represent the working-class citizens,” Gaige said in a statement sent to NonDoc.
If elected, two of Gaige’s priorities would be reducing or eliminating the state’s sales tax on groceries and making free school lunches available to working-class families, he said.
Gaige does not appear to maintain a campaign website or Facebook account.
Tim Hale, 64, is an area ministry coordinator for the Officer’s Christian Fellowship. According to OCF’s website, the organization’s purpose is to “glorify God by uniting Christian officers for Biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society.”
According to his LinkedIn, Hale is an “experienced pastor with a demonstrated history of working with veterans, active duty military and the families of true American heroes.”
Hale does not appear to maintain a campaign website or Facebook account.
Erick Harris, 36, is an attorney with a focus on civil litigation, business litigation and transactional matters, according to his LinkedIn. Before entering private practice, he served as an assistant attorney general in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, according to his campaign website.
Harris is pro-life, a proponent for limited government and “believes we must both empower parents to make the best educational choices for their families and invest heavily in our public schools,” his website states. He adds that he will “fight the radical left’s attempts to indoctrinate our children in the classroom.”
He currently serves on the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Board and previously taught political science as an adjunct professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. In 2018, Harris finished fifth in a Republican primary for an open Senate District 30 seat.
Ronda Lee Peterson, 61, is an Edmond Public Schools bus driver.
According to her campaign website, she wants educators to focus on “the basics of learning” without “CRT, DEI, social justice, and other similar ideologies.” She is an advocate for “medical freedom,” which she explains involves standing against “mandatory mask mandates, vaccinations, social distancing or shutdowns.” Peterson also wants to eliminate the state’s sales tax on groceries.
“With out-of-control inflation and supply chain disruptions causing the cost of food and basic needs to skyrocket, Oklahomans need to experience meaningful relief in the quickest way possible,” Peterson’s campaign website states.
A mortgage broker, Cris Price is the founder and president of Price Mortgage Group LLC. According to his campaign website, he is a licensed mortgage lender in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas and Virginia. Price’s campaign website states that he formerly served as president of the Edmond Rotary Club. He is also a former Edmond Chamber of Commerce ambassador and is an Edmond Citizens Police Academy graduate.
“I’m running for office because I believe that I can make a difference in the lives of my fellow Edmond residents,” Price, 53, said in a press release. “I have a proven track record of leadership and community service, and I am committed to creating a better future for our residents, businesses and schools.”
Price lists three top priorities on his campaign website:
- Continued investment in education;
- Workforce development;
- Safer neighborhoods.
Dr. Ross Vanhooser, 63, has worked as a physician for 32 years. Vanhooser is a member of the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision, appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“Semi-retired now, I do primarily interventional radiology cases a few days a month. I am committed to campaigning non-stop for the next 12 weeks leading up to the winner-take-all primary,” Vanhooser said in a press release. “If elected, my commitment is to represent all constituents with fairness, thoughtful decision-making, and hard work.”
Further in the release, Vanhooser states that he values “personal responsibility, free speech, the right to own a gun, public safety, excellence in education, and the protection of the unborn.”
Vanhooser ran unsuccessfully for District 19 of the State Senate in 2014 and District 41 of the Oklahoma House in 2016, a pair of legislative seats based at the time in northwest Oklahoma.
Democrats Regan Raff, Paul Timmons seek HD 39
Regan Raff, 43, is a small business owner and accounting professional, according to a press release.
“Running for office is not something I ever thought I thought about doing,” Raff’s release states. “This opportunity arose and I felt that someone needed to step up because our state faces so many challenges. I want us to have hope again, and I think we can bring people in our community together to have real conversations with each other. I truly feel we have more in common with each other than what divides us.”
She owns her own bookkeeping small business, and she and her husband own a real estate business.
“Our public schools are under-funded and under attack. Families have to look out of state to get the health care they need. Extreme partisanship keeps our government from working to move our state forward. These are the challenges I will face head-on,” Raff’s release states.
Paul Timmons, 62, was hired as the chief of investigations at the Oklahoma County Detention Center in October. Prior to working at the Oklahoma County Jail, he retired as a captain from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol after 34 years with the law enforcement agency.
In June 2017, Timmons graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Timmons listed education, public safety and mental health as some of his legislative priorities. Timmons said he interacted with legislators on numerous occasions during his time at the Oklahoma State Capitol Complex.
“I was in charge of the State Capitol Complex for about three years when I was with the patrol. I had a chance to interact with a lot of the legislators over there,” Timmons said. “I just feel like I’ve got the temperament to be that type of person that is willing to work across party lines and be able to negotiate and compromise without compromising my beliefs, or the beliefs of the people I represent.”
Timmons does not appear to maintain a campaign website or Facebook page.
Lone Libertarian candidate Richard Prawdzienski seeks HD 39
Richard Prawdzienski, 75, is running as a Libertarian candidate. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a veteran of the Vietnam war, according to his personal Facebook page.
Prawdzienski has unsuccessfully run for state legislative offices on multiple occasions. In his most recent effort at a legislative seat, he ran for House District 39 in 2018 as an independent. At the municipal level, Prawdzienski placed third among three candidates in the February 2019 Edmond mayoral election, finishing behind winning candidate Dan O’Neil and runner-up Charles Lamb, who died in December 2018.
In 2016 and 2012, he ran as a Libertarian candidate for Senate District 41 of the Oklahoma State Senate. In 2014, he was an independent candidate for governor, and in 2010 he was an independent candidate for lieutenant governor.
(Update: This article was updated at 10:20 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, to include comment from Paul Timmons, Democratic candidate for House District 39.)