Tulsa County Court Clerk Don Newberry and Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado were elected to new terms by default when no one filed against them by Friday, April 5, 2024. (NonDoc)

Seven candidates filed to run for the open Tulsa County Board of Commissioners District 2 seat, setting the race to be the most competitive county election in Tulsa County. While the race to succeed Karen Keith, who is running for mayor of Tulsa, drew a slate of candidates, two other Tulsa County races only saw one candidate file.

Republicans Lonnie Sims, Melissa Myers and Jeannie Cue all filed to run for county Commissioner and will face off in the June 18 primary election. On the Democratic side, Maria Barnes, Jim Rea and Sarah Gray all filed for the office previously held by Keith, the sole Democrat on the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners. Independent Josh Turley will skip the June primaries and appear on the November election ballot.

While some states still hold elections even if only one candidate appears on the ballot, Oklahoma cancels the general election in races where only one candidate files. Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado and Tulsa County Court Clerk Don Newberry both won their reelection campaigns simply by paying the filing fees.

The race for Tulsa County Clerk drew two candidates, one from each major party, meaning both candidate — incumbent Republican Michael Willis and Democratic challenger Don Nuam — will advance directly to the November general election.

The deadline for candidates to contest the qualifications of an opponent is 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 9. Hearings for contestations of candidacies will be scheduled Thursday, April 18, and — if needed — Friday, April 19, before the Oklahoma State Election Board.

Commissioner race draws 3 Republicans

Tulsa County candidates
The Tulsa County Board of Commissioner’s 2nd district includes west Tulsa County and parts of central Tulsa County, including the City of Tulsa’s downtown. (Screenshot)

A few well-known Republicans have tossed their hats into the commissioner ring and will compete June 18 for their party’s nomination in District 2 of Tulsa County.

Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks), 53, chose not to seek reelection to the Legislature. Sims, who had a nearly 20-year career in Jenks city politics, sat on Jenks’ Planning Commission and City Council before serving as mayor between 2013 and 2015.

In 2018, he was elected the Oklahoma House of Representatives and has since been reelected twice. Sims recently ran in the House Republican Caucus’s vote to be the next speaker of the House, losing to Speaker-designee Kyle Hilbert (R-Depew).

Tulsa City Councilwoman Jeanie Cue, 70, is also leaving her current office to seek the commissioner seat. Cue is a lifelong Tulsan and graduate of Daniel Webster High School and Tulsa Community College. She was first elected to the City Council in 2011, and her current term expires this year.

Cue’s council ward overlaps with parts of commissioner District 2, but so does parts of Sims’ House district. Both candidates will have to campaign in unfamiliar territory, but have a reliable base to build from. Cue may also benefit from her sister, Randi Crotty, having previously held the seat before Keith from 2002 to 2008.

Also in the race is political newcomer Melissa Myers, 41, of Sand Springs. Myers and her husband own a landscaping company. Her entry complicates the geography of the race, assuming she carries popularity in her hometown. With Tulsa, Jenks and Sand Springs all represented in the Republican primary, there is little neutral turf for each candidate to gain ground.

Sen. Cody Rogers (R-Tulsa) previously announced his commissioner campaign, but concerns about conflicts of interest with his road construction business led him to run for reelection in State Senate District 37 instead.

Democratic primary yields 3, plus an independent files

With Keith retiring, Tulsa County Democrats are hoping to hold onto their sole seat in county government. Maria Barnes, 63, Sarah Gray, 31, and Jim Rea, 53, are seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for County Commissioner.

Barnes is a former Tulsa City Councilor for District 4 who first served between 2006 and 2008, and later served another term between 2009 and 2011. She previously ran for Oklahoma House District 72 in 2016 and 2020, losing both times to Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa).

Gray of Jenks, a Cherokee Nation citizen, had previously announced her intention to run against incumbent Congressman Kevin Hern, but instead she filed for county commissioner Thursday. Gray has previously worked on Democratic election campaigns in the state while writing for the Black Wall Street Times in 2021 and 2023.

Gray is also active on Twitter and TikTok, where she challenged Libs of TikTok’s Chaya Raichik to a charity boxing match. Raichik appeared to accept, but no match has been scheduled. The boxing challenge appears to be a reference to U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin’s offer to fight Teamster’s Union President Sean O’Brien last year.

Rea is an attorney from Tulsa who has also lived in Dallas. He currently resides in midtown Tulsa near the border with Commission District 3, and he was appointed as Karen Keith’s chief deputy in August 2022. Before that, he served as an assistant district attorney for Tulsa County starting in 2019.

Rea is retired from the U.S. Naval Reserves and graduated from the University of Miami before earning master’s degrees from the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Dallas. He obtained his juris doctor from Southern Methodist University.

With Barnes’ old City Council ward making up the eastern-most portion of District 2 and Jenks the southern most, all three Democratic candidates will be introducing themselves for the first time to much of the western half of the district.

Rounding out the Tulsa County District 2 race is independent Josh Turley, 51, of Sand Springs. Turley is on his third campaign for county commissioner, having previously been the Republican nominee to face Keith in 2016 and 2020. He has worked for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office since 1996 and has a doctorate in management from the University of Phoenix, according to his LinkedIn where he goes by Dr. Josh Turley.

Tulsa County clerk candidates await November election

Incumbent Republican Michael Willis, 43, and Democrat Don Nuam, 26, were the only candidates for file for Tulsa County Clerk, setting the election for Nov. 5.

Willis is a Cherokee Nation citizen and has served as Tulsa County clerk since 2017. He worked for the county before his election and has been a volunteer Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy since 2009.

He was also appointed to the board for the Office of Juvenile Affairs by Gov. Mary Fallin, and he served on the board between 2014 and 2016.

According to her Facebook and LinkedIn, Nuam is a graduate of Jenks High School and the University of Oklahoma. She has worked the Center for Children and Families, Community After School Program, Jenks Public Schools, and Goodwill Industries.

Nuam is active in Tulsa County’s Zomi community, the largest Zomi community in the United States. Zomis comprise an ethnic minority originally from southeast Asia.

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Sheriff Vic Regalado, Court Clerk Don Newberry reelected

Incumbent Tulsa County Court Clerk Don Newberry and Sheriff Vic Regalado were reelected Friday after no other candidates filed for their respective offices.

Newberry, 57, is a lifelong Tulsan and graduate of Nathan Hale High School, Tulsa Community College and the University of Tulsa. He has served as the Tulsa County court clerk since Jan. 2017.

Newberry is also an U.S. Air Force veteran, having served between 1987 and 1996. In 2010 he started in the Tulsa County Assessor’s office where he worked until his election as court clerk.

Regalado, 52, lives in south Tulsa and has served as Tulsa County’s sheriff since 2016. Before his election, he worked for the Tulsa Police Department starting in 1994. Regalado was also appointed to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigations Commission in April 2018 by Gov. Mary Fallin and reappointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in March 2023. He currently serves as its chairman.

Regalado drew international attention in 2021 from the United Kingdom’s The Independent for his appearance at a “Health and Freedom Conference” hosted by Rhema Bible College that included speakers Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn.

Regalado told Public Radio Tulsa “it was a very big conference with different folks speaking on different subjects.”

“My part, as you heard, was pretty standard in regards to what I believe and what I think millions of Americans believe, and I think thousands of citizens from Tulsa County believe,” Regalado said in 2021. “So, in regards to what anybody else said, I don’t know. I mean, you know, I don’t really have an opinion on what they say. Some of it might be out there, some of it might be valid. It’s not for me to say.”