A Democrat won Tuesday's special House District 71 election for the first time in eight years. But it was close.
Dan Arthrell won by three votes over Katie Henke, according to unofficial results from the state Election Board.
With all 16 precincts reporting, Arthrell received 1,416 votes, or 50.1 percent, while Henke got 1,413 votes, or 49.9 percent.
The state Election Board will meet next week to certify the results. About 13 of the registered voters in the district turned out Tuesday to vote in the House District 71 race, the only issue on the ballot.
“This sends a message ... that every single person who voted in this race, every single one of them, made a difference,” said Arthrell, 65, who sought his first elective office. “I'm astounded.”
Arthrell said he plans to take his oath of office April 11. He plans to file for election for the full two-year term for House District 71 that starts in November. The three-day filing period for that and other legislative seats is April 11-13.
“I am going to do the best job for this district that they have ever had,” Arthrell said. “I will represent each and every one — Republican and Democrat.”
This is the second Democratic House victory this year; Rep. Curtis McDan
Republicans outnumber Democrats 68-33 in the House of Representatives.
Arthrell will succeed Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Tulsa who resigned in December to become chief executive officer of the Grand River Dam Authority.
Henke, 31, a teacher at Riverfield School, a private school in Tulsa, and Arthrell each won their Feb. 14 special primary election races handily. Henke won 77 percent of the vote, while Arthrell got 86 percent of the vote.
Arthrell is director of public policy and intergovernmental relations for the Community Service Council in Tulsa, a nonprofit that works to fulfill health and human services needs.
Arthrell, who has worked 33 years at the Community Service Council, said the state should make helping existing businesses in Oklahoma grow, and to make sure the state has a healthy work force. He also supports adequate funding to repair roads and bridges.