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Oklahoma to hold attorney general, state superintendent, lieutenant governor primary election

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Voting booth

A woman casts her vote in a voting booth for the 2020 United States Presidential election on Nov. 3.

Oklahoma is holding elections for three important positions on November 8, with certain categories holding primaries on June 28. 

The state superintendent, who oversees all the administrative and business operations of the state’s public school systems, has five candidates on the ballot.

The race for attorney general, who's responsible for advising and representing legislature and state agencies, has only three candidates running, including incumbent John O’Conner. 

Finally, the lieutenant governor, who acts as governor should they be temporarily absent from the office, also has only three candidates.

State Superintendent

This year, four Republicans are running in the June 28 primary for state superintendent: John Cox, William Crozier, April Grace and Ryan Walters.

Democrat Jena Nelson is running uncontested in the primary and will be on the ballot in November for the general election. 

Joy Hofmeister (D), the Oklahoma superintendent of public instruction from January 2015 to present, is not running for reelection and instead is running for Governor of Oklahoma.  

John Cox (R) 

With over 36 years of experience, John Cox wants to “fight for the needs of our public schools” and earn his constituents' respect, according to his campaign site.

Cox’s education includes a bachelor's degree in mathematics education and a master’s degree in counseling from Northeastern State University, and a doctorate in both Educational Administration and Educational Specialist from Oklahoma State University. 

He also serves as the president of the Organization of Rural Elementary Schools, the chair of the Oklahoma Schools Assurance Group and as the treasurer of the Oklahoma Schools Insurance Group. Cox also has Oklahoma teaching certificates with nine different areas of certification, including school superintendent.

Cox’s campaign website said he is working to get back to basics and make schools a safer place.

William Crozier (R) 

William Crozier, a Union City native, is a retired veteran with experience teaching at the university level, in middle schools and to prison inmates, according to an article from The Transcript.

The Transcript also reported that Crozier has three main issues he focuses on, including advocating for the state to get rid of the state textbook committee and district consolidation. 

In 2006, Crozier ran for state superintendent and advocated for bulletproof textbooks in order to keep children safe in schools.

This candidate has no campaign site or public social media. 

April Grace (R) 

With 30 years of education experience under her belt, April Grace is running for Oklahoma superintendent “to create a healthy culture and commitment to students and employees.”

Grace said on her campaign site she served as the superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools.

The Oklahoma Association of School Administrators awarded Grace with the Superintendent of the Year Award in 2021, and the Oklahoma State Superintendent Award for Arts Excellence School Administrator Award in 2020. 

If elected Grace wants to redesign Oklahoma Education, according to her campaign site. 

Ryan Walters (R) 

Oklahoma Secretary of Public Education Ryan Walters is running for Oklahoma superintendent of public instruction to advocate for students' “immediate and long term successes.”

Walters is the executive director of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma and an active school teacher at both Millwood and McAlester High School. 

Similar to most of his Republican peers, Walters is against the teaching of critical race theory in schools. His campaign site said the state should “strive to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of judging people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.”

During his time as the Secretary of Public Education, Walters fell under scrutiny when he incorrectly recorded what $8 million dollars of COVID-19 relief was spent on, reported by The Oklahoma Watch. The money allocated to public families was reportedly spent on televisions, pressure washers and exercise gear instead of materials for children doing at-home learning.

According to The Frontier, Walters failed to report his campaign expenditures in his finance reports in his bid for state superintendent. This is a direct violation of ethics laws and leads to voter confusion about campaign revenue, The Frontier reported. 

He has several endorsements from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-Oklahoma) and former Oklahoma Governor and current OU Board of Regents Chair Frank Keating.  

Jena Nelson (D)

Mother of two and Oklahoma 2020 Teacher of the Year, Jena Nelson believes that "our kids are not for sale and our schools are not for sale."

Nelson has more than 16 years of experience as an educator. Outside of this, she’s been awarded several awards for her teaching expertise. The National Education Association awarded her and 45 others a Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy presented her the Lauren Choate Resilience Award. 

Nelson recognizes the hardships teachers are facing in Oklahoma today. She wants to give more money to schools and teachers to keep them from going to other states with higher pay.

Attorney General

Current Oklahoma Attorney General John M. O’Conner and Gentner F. Drummond will run in the June 28 Republican primary and Libertarian Lynda Steele will meet the winner at the polls on Nov. 8. 

John M. O’Connor (R)

Oklahoma’s 19th attorney general John O’Connor has over 40 years of legal experience.

O’Connor’s education includes a bachelor of arts degree in political science and public administration from Oklahoma State University and a law degree from University of Tulsa-College of Law.

Outside of his current position, he mostly focuses on civil litigation — specifically, complex commercial and insurance litigation. He also served as general counsel for businesses.

Nationally recognized, O’Connor was nominated in 2018 by Donald Trump as a candidate for United States district judge for the northern, western and eastern districts of Oklahoma.

O’Connor is also a past president of the Rotary Club of Tulsa and served as president and director of Tulsa’s Ronald McDonald House for two terms. 

Gentner F. Drummond (R) 

Decorated fighter pilot and lifelong rancher Gentner F. Drummond is looking to “defend our rights, uphold the rule of law, and serve the people of Oklahoma, not the political elite,” according to his campaign site.

Drummond has a law degree from Georgetown University and served in the U.S. Military. For his quick thinking in the Gulf War in identifying enemy pilots, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by the U.S. Air Force. 

Drummond plans to protect Second Amendment rights, protect against overreaching government and work toward getting police backlogs organized. 

This candidate has been endorsed by the news outlet the Tulsa World.

Lynda Steele (L)

Oklahoma Army National Guard Veteran Lynda Steele wants to protect people, whether or not the the law affects them. 

During her 12 years of service in the National Guard, Steele worked to usher enlisted female soldiers into combat Military occupational specialities, according to her campaign site.

Steele discussed her thoughts on the importance of the attorney general position on her Facebook page. 

“The Attorney General's office may be one of the most important and influential offices that clearly should … remain … available to all (Oklahomans),” said Steele. 

Lieutenant Governor

Three Candidates are running for lieutenant governor position on June 28. Republican Matt Pinnell is running for reelection, challenged by Libertarian Chris Powell and Democratic Representative Melinda L. Alizadeh-Ford. 

Matt Pinnell (R)

Matt Pinnell has held the office of Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma since November 2018. 

As lieutenant governor, Pinnell serves as the president of the Oklahoma Senate and provides assistance to the governor. He also serves on other boards that benefit the state of Oklahoma. 

For Pinnell, these boards include tourism, branding and the Department of Commerce executive committee. 

During his time on the tourism board, Pinnell personally signed off on $16.7 million in payments for Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen restaurants, reported by The Frontier. In an email obtained by the publication, Pinnell reportedly signed off on $1.5 million without seeing an invoice. 

Pinnell has served in several leadership positions before and during his time in office. In 2010 to 2013, he served as the Chairman of the Oklahoman Republican Party. From 2013-17, Pinnell served as the Republican National Committee's National State Party Director.

Pinnell is an advocate for conservative candidates running for both state and national offices, according to his campaign site. 

Chris Powell (L)

With plans to be the last lieutenant governor of Oklahoma, Chris Powell believes the office is obsolete

Powell, born in Midwest City, Oklahoma, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1989 to 1995, according to his Ballotpedia page.

Also according to Ballotpedia, he has worked and served in positions including evidence custodian, a 911 dispatcher, the chair of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party, and was on the board of Youth Cornerstone.

This candidate does not have a campaign website. 

Melinda L. Alizadeh-Fard (D)

An attorney from Oklahoma, Melinda L. Alizadeh-Fard is running for lieutenant governor of Oklahoma. She is running uncontested in the primary, so she has automatically won the Democratic nomination.

Alizadeh-Fard has several years of experience as an immigration lawyer, social worker and an administrative law judge

Her schooling includes a bachelor of science from the University of Texas A&M-Commerce, a graduate degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law. 

This candidate does not have a campaign website.

The primary and special elections are on June 28. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To find your polling location and see a sample ballot for your precinct, go to the OK Voter Portal.

 

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