2024 Republican candidates Ryan Eaves and Troy Golden for House District 22.
Republicans Ryan Eaves, left, and Troy Golden, right, are the only candidates seeking Oklahoma House District 22 in 2024. (NonDoc)

In the open House District 22 post now held by Speaker Charles McCall, Republican candidates Ryan Eaves and Troy Golden are campaigning on Christian values, farmers’ rights and fighting overreach by the federal government.

Golden, a former Tishomingo city manager who is executive director of the Johnston County Industrial Authority, outlined his priorities in an interview ahead of the Republican primary in which House District 22 will be decided.

Eaves, the owner of Eaves Stone Products, did not respond to multiple requests for an interview about his campaign.

McCall (R-Atoka) cannot seek reelection because of legislative term limits, which prohibit Oklahoma lawmakers from seeking reelection after serving 12 years. With no other candidates in the race, the winner of the southern Oklahoma seat will be determined by the June 18 election.

Golden, who owns Houser Furniture in Tishomingo, said members of the community encouraged him to run.

“As a city manager, I realized the importance of a state representative, especially in a district like this, that’s mostly rural,” Golden said. “You really have to have somebody who will fight to help those small communities, and that’s what I feel a passion to do.”

Eaves’ website describes why he is running.

“From my upbringing on the ranch to my experiences as a businessman, husband and father, I have seen the importance of preserving our old-fashioned values,” his website said. “I am ready to be a strong voice for you and fight for the principles that make us who we are.”

House District 22 runs from west of Sulphur to east of Atoka. Early voting for the June 18 primary is slated for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, and Friday, June 14, at the Murray, Johnson, Atoka and Coal County election boards. Early voting is also scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 15.

Golden: Rural area faces hurdles

During his career, Golden said he has learned a lot about the importance of collaboration.

“In rural areas, you do suffer from some financial hurdles. One of the things I learned from being city manager is that to get certain things done it took tribal participation, college participation and county participation,” Golden said. “Once we set a vision to improve and make our community better and involve various partners, we were able to succeed. It’s important to have someone who can look at the bigger picture and think outside the box.”

Golden said infrastructure will be an important priority if he is elected.

“Improvements we could do in the district would make generational changes to give our kids future opportunities to go to college in this district and stay to work and raise families here as well,” Golden said.

Golden said the Johnston County Industrial Authority has started a program to build housing in Johnston County.

“This housing will facilitate new professors coming into Murray State College, new teachers coming into the school district, as well as any industries interested in locating in Johnston County,” Golden said. “There will be housing for those families, where in the past we have not had that.”

Golden said he plans to have a local focus when approaching education issues.

“In my approach to education, I will work with my local district to see what needs are and will work on the state level to help facilitate improving educational outcomes to equip our children for success in the workforce,” Golden said. “I have already partnered successfully with Murray State College leaders and look forward to ensuring that world-class education is accessible and achievable in our local communities.”

Eaves’ website says he is “a passionate advocate for our children’s well-being and education.” He promised to “stand strong against woke and transgender ideology, ensuring that our schools remain focused on providing a quality education while preserving our traditional values.”

Golden said he wants to support energy production, aerospace development and ranching in the district to increase revenue and relieve tax burdens.

Golden said he is hoping to have “neighborly input” from State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd, who lives in the district.

Eaves: ‘Criminals and a corrupt federal government’

Eaves’ website says he is “committed to defending our community from the threats posed by thugs, criminals and a corrupt federal government.”

Golden said he is also against federal overreach, specifically in the realm of farming.

“I’ve traveled half the United States and worked with ranchers and farmers. I’ve seen how federal overreach was really hurting their businesses and have been able to work with them through that,” Golden said. “That’s another reason I feel it’s important to participate on the legislative level so I can ensure the success of their businesses.”

Golden said a gap in federal affairs is a lack of listening to constituents.

“We live in a wonderful country set up so people could vote for a representative that would listen and work. Unfortunately, especially on a federal level, it’s all about making promises that aren’t fulfilled,” Golden said. “I’m not here to make promises, I’m here to listen to the people of District 22 and work as hard as I can.”

Golden is endorsed by Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights and said his values align with the group’s.

He said what sets him apart as a candidate is his diverse experience.

“I have a proven, successful experience in the free market dealing with regulations and business needs both in red and blue states. I know what ranchers and farmers deal with when the feds are involved. I’ve been in municipal government learning how to navigate bureaucracy and bring innovative solutions to communities that have been left behind from progress,” Golden said. “I’ll build collaborative teams of people from many backgrounds, and people will see a difference in Tishomingo driving down Main Street.”