Democrats seek competitive state Senate seats in Oklahoma City

State Senator Carri Hicks briefly explains why local residents should give her four more years in the Oklahoma Legislature.

As she knocks on doors in her district that stretches from Bethany to The Village, she reminds voters that she is a former public school teacher fighting to lower health care and prescription drug costs. because her son has type 1 diabetes.

She adds that she is a Democrat if asked about her political affiliation.

Four years ago, Hicks and State Senator Julia Kirt did the unthinkable. They flipped Republican-held state Senate seats in the Oklahoma City metro area — a sign of the city’s political shift from red to purple.

Now they face Republican challengers in districts that have changed due to redistricting.

“The reasons why I ran the first time are probably more important now than they were then,” said Hicks, a former elementary school teacher from Deer Creek. of our teachers are increasing significantly.”

Hicks, 39, speaks frequently on the campaign trail about improving public education. Raising teacher salaries and not micromanaging teachers in the classroom are key to stemming the exodus of educators from public schools, she said. Raising the minimum wage could also improve academic outcomes, since the majority of Oklahoma students live in poverty, she said.

Hicks, 39, takes on Republican Mariam Daly in Senate District 40.

Map of Senate District 40

A real estate agent, Daly, 58, is a naturalized American citizen having been born in Qatar and raised in the United Arab Emirates where both of her parents worked for oil companies.

Daly declined an interview, but in an email she said running for public office was a chance to give back to the state.

“As a naturalized citizen, I never take my rights as an American for granted,” she said in the email. “We are privileged to live in a nation where people have the right to earn a living without the burden of excessive taxation and excessive regulation; where the press can report information without fear of reprisal and censorship from the government; where everyone has freedom of speech and movement; where all children have access to education; where people who dream big have the opportunity to achieve great things.”

Daly

One of the biggest differences between Daly and Hicks is their stance on school choice. Daly told The Oklahoma City Sentinel she thinks that public funds for education should follow the student wherever he wants to go, whether this schooling is public, private or at home. Hicks opposed the legislation this year this would have allowed families to use taxpayers’ money for private school fees.

Hicks was one of more than a dozen public school educators who was elected to the Legislative Assembly following the 2018 teachers’ strike.

In campaign literature, Daly said tackling inflation through tax reform was his top priority.

Asked about her impact on Capitol Hill over the past four years, Hicks said she tries to take a thoughtful approach to her job while trying to find political solutions to issues raised by voters.

It was signed into law this year by bipartisan legislation that will increase the number of rare genetic conditions Oklahoma screens for in newborns. She thought of the bill after hearing about a a voter’s personal struggle with a rare genetic disease.

Hicks said about half of SD 40 voters are new because the district has grown from redistricting. The district is still competitive, as the number of registered Democrats and Republicans is roughly equal.

Former GOP Senator Ervin Yen who is now running for governor as an independentused to represent the district until facing a primary right-wing opponent who later lost to Hicks in the general election.

Map of Senate District 30

In Senate District 30, Kirt takes on Republican Lori Callahan, who sought the seat four years ago but lost in the Republican primary. In 2018, Kirt’s race was the the most expensive legislative race in the state as Republicans attempted to hold on to the seat David Holt vacated to run for mayor of Oklahoma City.

Kirt, 49, is a self-proclaimed budget nerd who likes to dig into the finer points of state agency finances and the state’s multi-billion dollar budget.

Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, speaks during a September Special Session at the State Capitol.

She has introduced numerous bills to strengthen state ethics laws and increase government transparency and accountability. Kirt said that even if his bills don’t make it to the governor’s office, it’s important to have conversations about government ethics and conflicts of interest to ensure elected officials don’t take advantage of their service. audience.

As part of the Legislative Mental Health Caucus, Kirt said she was proud to have worked bipartisanly to improve access to treatment.

On the campaign trail four years ago, Kirt was pragmatic about his effectiveness as a member of the minority party. One of the key elements of the minority is asking probing political questions and ensuring that legislation is publicly approved, she said.

“I was very realistic that I was going to be one of 48 (senators) and outvoted,” she said. “I never expected to revolutionize the world on my own.”

Callahan, 50, puts her master’s degree in business management to good use through the video production company she co-owns with her husband. Last year she founded Women Now, a group to help connect local businesswomen.

Lori Callahan

If elected, the Republican Senate candidate wants to focus on improving state health outcomes and access to health care.

She also has a personal passion for criminal justice reform after the incarceration of a teenage girl she fostered. The situation got her thinking about how the state needs to do more to help people coming out of foster care and coming out of prison.

She praised a recent restorative justice initiative that aims to reward former inmates who demonstrate good behavior and keep their jobs by reducing their time on parole.

“This year I just decided I had a lot to offer in business and life experience, and I think it was time for me to step in and run again,” Callahan said.

About 41% of registered voters in SD 30 are Democrats, 33% are Republicans and 25% are independents.