A former sheriff's deputy is qualified to run against his old boss for sheriff, the Oklahoma County Election Board ruled Monday.
Darrell Sorrels, R-Midwest City, is not considered a federal employee despite his contract work for the U.S. Marshals Service, the three-member board announced after a lengthy determination hearing.
Sorrels' candidacy was challenged last week by Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, D-Choctaw, on the grounds that Sorrels' employment as a special deputy with the service precluded him from running for partisan office.
Sorrels told the board Monday that although he is “specially deputized” for the service, his employer is actually a private security company out of New Mexico.
Sorrels, who mans a security checkpoint at the federal courthouse in Oklahoma City, said he works as an independent contractor and receives no pay or benefits from the federal government.
Court clerk race
The board also ruled Monday in favor of two candidates for Oklahoma County court clerk, meaning all five Republican candidates for that office will remain on the ballot for the June 26 primary election.
No Democrat filed for the seat, so the race will be decided at the primary election.
Tim Rhodes and Charles Key, both of Oklahoma City, independently challenged the eligibility of Kelly Barlean on the grounds that Barlean does not meet residency requirements to run for the seat.
Barlean said his family is split between two homes — his mother-in-law's in McLoud and his father-in-law's in Oklahoma City — because a decision to move was not made until after his three children enrolled in school in McLoud.
Barlean, who registered to vote at 1315 E Wilshire in Oklahoma City last September, said his father-in-law has agreed to allow the family to build on his property there but that the family will not complete the move until May or June, when the school year is complete.
Rhodes also challenged the candidacy of Edmond candidate Salome Vaughn on the grounds that she was cited twice in Oklahoma City Municipal Court in 2011 with unauthorized reconnection of city water service, both misdemeanors for which she pleaded guilty.
Rhodes' attorney argued the two citations qualified as “involving embezzlement,” rendering her ineligible for office until 2026.
Vaughn's attorney argued the tickets were paid without protest because the alleged incidences occurred while she was out of town at a vacant rental property she owns.
The board agreed to accept Barlean's residency status in Oklahoma City based on his voter registration, and it ruled the infractions against Vaughn were not serious enough to qualify as involving embezzlement.
No challenge was filed against or on behalf of Nathan Schlinke, of Oklahoma City, a fifth candidate for the court clerk seat.