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House District 68 Jenks
From left: Republicans Mike Lay and Johnathan Grable are the only candidates competing for Oklahoma House District 68 in 2024. (NonDoc)

Two candidates from Jenks are running in the open House District 68 election to replace Rep. Lonnie Sims in the district, which spans Tulsa and Creek counties and includes parts of Jenks, Sapulpa, Glenpool and south and west Tulsa. Former legislative aide Jonathan Grable and businessman Mike Lay are competing to succeed Sims, who has represented the district since 2018.

A longtime Jenks City Council member and mayor, Sims (R-Jenks) chose not to seek a fourth term in House District 68 and instead is seeking District 2 on the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners, where he faces his own primary race for the Republican nomination.

Grable is a self-described “Jenks lifer” and a former legislative aide who believes his experience in the Oklahoma Legislature would set him up for a successful first term in office. He participated in a candidate forum hosted June 10 in Jenks by the Tulsa County Republican Party.

“I am running because I was looking at the country, and we all know the state of the country, and decided if I didn’t run and try and make a change, then I don’t know how I would live with myself for the rest of my life,” Grable said at the forum.

Lay founded Layco Electric Innovations, an electronics manufacturing company, and he has secured an endorsement from the Tulsa World.

Lay told the newspaper he was persuaded to run for office by his son, Matt Lay, who is president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 176 in Tulsa.

“I cannot say my first answer was affirmative,” Lay said of his son’s recruitment efforts.

Lay did not participate in the Tulsa County Republican Party’s June 10 candidate forum, nor did he respond to phone and email requests for an interview with NonDoc before the publication of this article.

The primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 18, with polls open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. No other candidate filed for House District 68, so the winner of the Republican primary will win the seat outright.

Grable points to premature birth, advocates nuance in gender and abortion policy

HD 68 election
Jonathan Grable is running for HD 68. (Provided)

Grable, 40, outlined his campaign’s top issues at the June 10 candidate forum, highlighting both immigration and inflation, while also appearing to echo worries highlighted by Gov. Kevin Stitt about a “two-tiered system” of justice in Oklahoma following the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.

“The No. 1 issue most people are concerned about right now is obviously immigration,” Grable said. “We’re also just worried about inflation and our economy. But another issue we have is our judicial system. We have a two-tiered system that we need to root out.”

Grable also linked immigration to inflation, explaining that increases in immigration increase demand and drive up prices for housing and vehicles.

Asked about his stance on gender reassignment surgery for minors, Grable gave a revealing and nuanced answer by telling the story of how his brother was born 28 weeks early and without fully formed reproductive organs. Grable argued that in cases like his brother’s, gender surgery is appropriate. But for all other cases, he said gender surgery should not be performed on minors.

“He was born 28 weeks early. His name is Michael. For three days, he was known as Michelle because he did not have fully formed reproductive parts,” Grable said. “So there is a place for gender surgeries at a small age, so that’s the caveat. But other than that, no one under 18 should have gender surgery or puberty blockers.”

Grable also referenced the story of his brother when asked about abortion, saying exceptions should be made to save the life of a mother but that abortion should never be used “as a form of birth control.”

“This goes back to my brother, Michael. The doctor came to my mother and told her, ‘We have to save the mother or save the child,’ and she goes, ‘We can get another child, but we can’t get another mother,” Grable said. “We need to not let women bleed out in a parking lot because they had a complication with their pregnancy.”

Asked whether he supported efforts to cut the state income tax, Grable said he worked as a legislative aid when the state’s Constitutional Reserve Fund was near empty, so he said he would keep that experience in mind while serving in the Legislature. He indicated support for the sales tax cut on grocery items passed during this year’s legislative session, but he said any reduction of the income tax should be gradual to avoid revenue shortfalls.

Political newcomer Mike Lay seeks office

HD 68 election
Mike Lay is running for HD 68. (Provided)

According to his website, Mike Lay is a lifelong Tulsan and founding member of Victory Christian Church. He has worked as a minister and founded an electronics manufacturing company. He graduated from Will Rogers High School in 1972, and he is the son of a former Tulsa newspaperman.

Lay, 69, told the Tulsa World he had never donated to a political campaign before, but he had been a financial supporter of the Tulsa Community Foundation. He also praised the philanthropic efforts of George Kaiser and Henry Zarrow.

Lay’s campaign website focuses on “protecting traditional values,” as well as securing the border and supporting education and first responders.