A Democrat and a Republican, both ministers, joined three GOP contenders Tuesday to seek a state Senate seat that has been vacant for just a month.
A Republican for the vacant House of Representatives District 71 seat also filed Tuesday, joining a Republican and a Democrat who filed Monday.
One Democrat and one Republican remained the only candidates in the Senate District 46 race.
So far, 10 candidates have filed for the three legislative seats that have become vacant in the past couple months. The three-day filing period ends Wednesday.
The state Election Board, after getting advice from its assigned lawyer with the state attorney general's office, is using the new legislative districts for all elections to be held in 2012. Lawmakers earlier this year approved new districts for the House and Senate, which is required every 10 years to reflect changes recorded in the most recent census.
The primary election for all three races is set for Feb. 14. The special general election will be April 3.
Senate District 20
The new Senate District 20 post covers Logan, Noble and Pawnee counties and parts of Kingfisher County. It used to cover Grant and Kay counties.
The post became vacant when Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City, died Nov. 11
Chris Humphreys, 57, of Guthrie, filed for the seat Tuesday. He is pastor of Heartland Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, and he also checks on items for various companies and stores.
Humphreys, who is seeking political office for the first time, said he would work to make state government more efficient and smaller.
“Minimizing the size and reach of government maximizes individual freedom, responsibility and prosperity,” he said.
“The kind of work that I do I see a lot of waste and fraud in the retail world,” Humphreys said. “I think I can bring just a common-sense approach to using our money wisely. We don't need more taxes, we need more taxpayers.”
The first Democrat filed for the post Tuesday.
Magnus Scott Sr., 58, a former mayor of Langston, said he would work to help economic development in the district, which covers Logan, Noble and Pawnee counties and parts of Kingfisher County.
Scott, pastor of the Mount Olive A&E Church in Perry, said he would like to improve the city of Langston and work to get a grocery store and other business developments as well as affordable housing. Some out-of-state students at Langston University don't return because of the lack of activities in the community, he said.
“There is nothing in Langston to encourage anybody to want to stay,” Scott said.
“We are concerned about the entire district,” he said. “Tourism would be a viable thing that we would like to promote.”
On Monday, Phil Berkenbile, director of the state CareerTech system, filed for the post. Berkenbile, 61, of Morrison, filed as a Republican. He's headed up CareerTech since 2003; he's worked there since 1988 except for five years when he served as superintendent of Morrison Public Schools.
Berkenbile, who changed his party affiliation to Republican two years ago, was a leading critic of a bill passed this year that allows those with a valid concealed-carry permit to bring handguns to a CareerTech campus as long as they keep the weapons in their locked vehicles. He said the measure wasn't a factor in his decision to run for the Legislature.
“I feel like I have a lot to offer the state of Oklahoma,” he said.
Jobs and work force development are key issues, he said.
If elected, he would have to resign his post. Berkenbile said he has considered retiring in the next couple years.
Also filing as a Republican for the seat was Wayne Murphey, a Logan County deputy county commissioner for District 2, in the southeast part of the county.
“I want to see a smaller, more efficient government,” said Murphey, 55, of Guthrie. “I'd like to see a more transparent government.”
Murphey is the father of state Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie. Like his son, he said he would not accept donations or gifts from special interest groups and lobbyists.
Ann “A.J.” Griffin is another Republican seeking the seat. She is executive director of Logan Community Services, a nonprofit agency that provides a variety of social services for children and families. Griffin, 43, of Guthrie, is seeking her first political post.
A former foster parent, Griffin said her agency works with the state Department of Human Services and she has serious concerns about DHS. Nearly 20 children have died from child abuse or neglect since Jan. 1, 2010; all were either in DHS custody or agency officials had received complaints within the previous year that the children were being abused or neglected.
“The system is in need of complete overhaul,” Griffin said. “There are other states that have been very successful in reducing the number of children that are in custody and improving the quality of life for our custody children.”
House District 71
In the House District 71 race in Tulsa, Republican Lydia D'Ross filed Tuesday for the seat that became vacant last month when House Floor Leader Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, resigned to become chief executive officer of the Grand River Dam Authority.
D'Ross, 48, of Tulsa, said she wants to help work to improve DHS.
A former social worker, D'Ross serves as state director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and serves on the Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission.
She said she is concerned about social issues in her district, such as the overcrowding of juvenile court and services for special needs children.
“The DHS reform has to be done,” D'Ross said. “It really needs it.”
On Monday, Democrat Dan Arthrell, 65, filed for the post. Republican Evelyn Rogers, 59, a librarian at Tulsa Community College, also filed.
Arthrell is director of public policy and intergovernmental relations for the Community Service Council in Tulsa, a nonprofit that works to provide health and human services needs.
“Oklahoma is not in good stead in many ways,” he said. “We have ranking where we rank very lowly and we've got to bring those up or we're not going to attract anybody to this state or even keep people who are here.”
Arthrell said he has worked with members of both political parties and philosophical views to solve problems.
“I bring a talent to not separate but bring together and join to solve the state's issues,” he said.
Rogers unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, last year. Rogers also ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and for Congress in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Rogers said she wants public schools to work closer with businesses so students can start looking at possible opportunities.
Senate District 46
In the Senate District 46 race, no candidates filed for the post Tuesday.
State Rep. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City, and Jason Reese, a Republican, filed Monday for the seat.
McAffrey, 63, was elected to the House District 88 post in 2006. The Senate district covers much of his House district.
The old district was mostly Democratic, but it now has picked up some areas to the south, which have more Republicans.
McAffrey said he is interested in going to the Senate because with 48 members it is a smaller body than the 101-member House.
“In the Senate you have your voice heard a little easier,” he said.
Jobs are a key issue, McAffrey said, as is proper funding of public schools.
“If we don't have public education, we're going to lose people,” he said. “Vouchers and private schools are not the answer.”
Republican Jason Reese, an Oklahoma City attorney, also filed for the post
Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, is resigning the post next year because he is moving out of state. He was elected to the Senate District 46 post in 2006.
Reese, 33, ran last year for state labor commissioner. He lost in the Republican primary.
Reese said he wants to improve the quality of public school education.
“I'm a firm believe that every parent should have the ability to send their child to a quality school of their choice,” he said.
“We need to change our safety net programs to be in more in favor of retraining instead of dependence,” he said.
Reese said he supports eliminating the sales tax on groceries.