Senate District 33
From left: Bill Bickerstaff, Tim Brooks, Christi Gillespie and Shelley Gwartney will be on the Oklahoma State Senate District 33 ballot during the June 18, 2024, GOP primary election. (NonDoc)

Four Republicans are vying for the open State Senate District 33 seat, which has been held for the past 12 years by Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow). Now chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, Dahm is term limited and cannot seek reelection in 2024.

Candidates in the June 18 GOP primary, all from Broken Arrow, include a businessman, an insurance agent, a businesswoman who is Broken Arrow’s vice mayor, and an education activist who works as a creative adviser to small businesses.

To win the Republican nomination outright on Tuesday, a candidate will need to receive more than 50 percent of votes cast. If no one reaches that threshold, the top two Republicans will compete in a runoff scheduled for Aug. 27. The winner will oppose Democrat Bob Willis, 73, of Broken Arrow, in the Nov. 5 general election.

Senate District 33 covers parts of Broken Arrow and east Tulsa.

Early voting continues in designated county early voting locations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 14 as well as from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15. Voters must vote in the county where they are registered.

The following profiles of the Republican candidates for Senate District 33 are presented in alphabetical order and were assembled from publicly available information.

Bill Bickerstaff

Bill Bickerstaff is seeking the GOP nomination for Senate District 33 in 2024. (Provided)

Age: 73

Profession/background: Bill Bickerstaff is a Broken Arrow businessman. He was an unsuccessful Tulsa Public Schools board candidate in 2014 and was involved in two political action committees that tried to influence a 2023 Bixby Public Schools board election.

Platform: Bickerstaff supports eliminating the state income tax and states on his website that he is committed to “education that prepares our youth for the future, free from biased agendas, and focused on student success (…) underpinned by conservative principles and a respect for traditional values.”  He says he also is for open, accountable governance and ensuring “every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely and every government action is transparent.”

“I am committed to serving the people of Oklahoma with transparency, honesty, and a relentless pursuit of policies that uplift every citizen,” Bickerstaff says on his campaign website. “My vision is for an Oklahoma that thrives economically, values the contributions of its entrepreneurs and workers, and remains a beacon of hope and opportunity, guided by the conservative ideals that have made our state strong and resilient.”

Online: Website | Facebook

Tim Brooks

Tim Brooks is seeking the Republican nomination for Senate District 33 in 2024. (Provided)

Age: 40

Profession/background: Tim Brooks is an insurance executive who says his primary interest is families, which are “under attack more so than any time in our nation’s history.”

“The family is the first institution that was formed by God and is the primary source for receiving basic needs, financial security, support, belonging, and education and is the greatest asset to building a strong foundation of values, healthy living, and community involvement,” he says on his website. Brooks is a 2014 Rhema Bible Training Center graduate who completed the Leadership Broken Arrow program in 2017. Brooks was an unsuccessful state House candidate in 2022.

Platform: Brooks says on his campaign website that he is frustrated at seeing legislators considering and voting in favor of laws that increase prices, make it harder to find in-network doctors and put burdens on people instead of on insurance companies.

“It’s time for someone who knows health insurance to be helping to make our health insurance laws,” he says online.

On his Facebook page, he said bureaucracy is the legislative arm of the executive branch, and it appears to also be the fastest growing entity within government.

“Every time the Legislature cedes authority to the executive, they make themselves more and more obsolete, and move power further and further away from the people,” he says online. “We must reduce the executive overreaches both in our state and in our city by addressing these budget expansions to return authority to the Legislature and power to the people.”

Online: Website | Facebook

Christi Gillespie

Christi Gillespie is seeking the Republican nomination for Oklahoma State Senate District 33 in 2024. (Provided)

Age: 54

Profession/background: Christi Gillespie has represented Ward 3 on the Broken Arrow City Council since 2019 and became vice mayor in 2021. She was reelected in 2023 to a term that would expire in 2027, unless she is elected to the State Senate.

Gillespie graduated with a degree in mass communications from Oklahoma Christian University and has spent more than 30 years in sales, most recently as the North America director of sales and training for SeneGence International, which sells skincare and makeup products. Along with her daughter, Gillespie is set to open a small business called Let’s Play BA, an indoor children’s play business, this summer off Main Street in Broken Arrow.

Platform: On her website, Gillespie talks about how she has used her business expertise to push revitalization of south Broken Arrow, including New Orleans Square, the Aspen Ridge Development, as well as the Innovation District. In the State Senate, she says she would continue working to improve economic opportunities for Oklahoma families, especially in the technology sector. Gillespie says she supports law enforcement and first responders, noting she is a graduate of the Broken Arrow Citizens Police Academy and does ride-alongs with first responders. She calls herself a constitutional conservative and a “staunch defender of the unborn.”

In the State Senate, she says she would continue the effort she started on the City Council to bring public safety districts to Broken Arrow and other communities. Gillespie says she is a longtime PTA volunteer and a supporter of public schools. She says she will continue her work to empower parents to always have the final say in their children’s education, while also working “to ensure every Oklahoma classroom has a fantastic teacher.” In the State Senate, Gillespie says she would work to make Northeastern State University-Broken Arrow “a true four-year university.”

Gillespie announced an endorsement Friday from the Tulsa chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 176.

Links: Website | Facebook

Shelley Gwartney

Shelley Gwartney is seeking the Republican nomination for Oklahoma State Senate District 33 in 2024. (Provided)

Age: 37

Profession/background: Shelley Gwartney is a businesswoman and an education activist involved in Moms for Liberty and Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights, an organization opposed to mandatory vaccinations. On her campaign website, she calls herself a Christian conservative with a background in organizational management, infrastructure and communications. She says she has built problem-solving management systems for organizations that helped to optimize inventory, improve workflow and strengthen client relations. She works as a creative adviser to small businesses in Broken Arrow and says she got involved with politics “after being fed up with the left-leaning ideologies pushed” onto her children and “the assault on parental rights.” Gwartney says she co-founded a mom’s ministry at BattleCreek Church and served as a community group leader for nine years. She and her husband have fostered 13 children through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and have hosted five foreign exchange students from around the world.

Platform: On her campaign website, Gwartney says she wants to “strengthen the conservative core of Oklahoma State Senate District 33, lessen the dependency on the federal government as a state, and stop the leftist ideologies attempting to infiltrate Oklahoma.”

Gwartney writes that her top priorities include preserving conservative values through the next generation and protecting Oklahoma’s sovereignty “as a state where people will want to visit, invest and raise their families.” She says she wants to be a “bridge-builder, providing people with the education, resources and tools needed to best serve their families and communities.”

Online: Website | Facebook