Oklahoma elections: Two ministers among hopefuls for vacant Oklahoma Senate seat

A Democrat also has filed for the Oklahoma Senate District 20 post, which covers Pawnee, Noble and Logan counties and parts of Kingfisher County.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: December 7, 2011 at 12:21 am •  Published: December 7, 2011
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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.

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