Stillwater’s registered voters will have the opportunity to cast ballots for multiple elected officials later this year, but some races have already been decided.
Once the candidate filing period closed on Friday, April 10, candidates who filed unopposed and whose candidacy is not successfully contested were essentially elected by default.
The deadline to contest a candidate, or for candidates to withdraw themselves from is April 14 by 5 p.m. The deadline for a contested candidate to withdraw themselves from the race is April 20 by 5 p.m.
While the contests for Stillwater’s state legislators will feature both Democrats and Republicans, Payne County’s elections will not.
Stillwater will also help elect two of Oklahoma’s representatives to the federal government, seats currently held by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Cheyenne), and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Tulsa).
Below is a brief analysis of the various county and state elections which will involve Stillwater voters.
Payne County elections
Of the four county offices up for re-election, three will be held by the incumbent because they filed for re-election unopposed.
Commissioner Chris Reding, County Clerk Glenna Craig, and Court Clerk Lori Allen all filed for re-election unopposed, and will retain their offices.
The only county office that multiple candidates filed for was that of sheriff, and the three who filed were all Republicans. Since there is no Democratic nominee for the position, the next Payne County Sheriff will be decided exclusively by Republican voters.
The chairman of the Payne County Democrats said attracting candidates to run for any public office is difficult.
“I mean, they know what they’re getting into, when they put their name out there, and they’re running for office,” said Dakota Christian. “They know that regardless of what they say, people might just judge them based off party, and what the party stands for.”
Christian said low paying elected positions, and Payne County’s overall Republican lean complicates the process further.
“To get Democrats to run is fairly difficult when they don’t think they can win,” Christian said.
He said the organization is focusing on local and county wide races higher up the ticket this cycle and that success in those races will hopefully attract more candidates for down-ballot offices in the future.
The office of Payne County Sheriff will be filled by the winner of the Republican primary for the position. Sheriff Kevin Woodward (R-Stillwater), will face two challengers in the primary, Gary McKinnis (R-Cushing) and Joe Harper (R-Cushing).
Elections for state representation
Stillwater rests entirely in State Senate District 21, a seat currently held by Sen. Tom Dugger (R-Stillwater). Dugger will face a reelection challenge against Rick Dunham (D-Stillwater) in the general election.
For representation in the statehouse, residents of Stillwater fall into either District 33 or District 34.
House District 33’s seat is held by Rep. John Talley (R-Stillwater), who faces a primary challenge against challenger Brice Nathaniel Chaffin (R-Stillwater).
House District 34’s seat is held by Rep. Trish Ranson (D-Stillwater). She will not face a primary challenge, but will face Aaron Means (R-Stillwater) in the general election.
Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission Chairman also faces re-election this year. The commission’s website describes itself as a regulatory body with an emphasis on fuel, oil and gas, transportation, and public utilities.
Chairman Todd Hiett (R-Kellyville) faces a primary challenge from Harold Spradling (R-Oklahoma City). The winner of the Republican primary will face a general election challenge for the seat from Todd Hagopian (L-Bixby).
Elections for federal representation
Sen. Inhofe is up for re-election this year, and faces opponents for his seat from all sides. In total, the field for Inhofe’s seat includes 11 candidates.
In addition to the four Democrats and four Republicans competing for the seat, Joan Farr (I-Tulsa), A.D. Nesbit (I-Ada), and Robert Murphy (L-Norman) have filed for the seat.
The field for Stillwater’s delegate to the House of Representatives is decidedly less crowded.
Stillwater falls into Oklahoma’s Representative District 3, currently held by Rep. Lucas. He is being challenged for his seat by Zoe Midyett (D-Wellston). Neither will face a primary challenger.
A complete list of candidates who filed for state office is available at https://www.ok.gov/elections/. Voters registered in other parts of Oklahoma can find more information about the races for their elected officials there.