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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 Modified: December 7, 2011 at 12:21 am •  Published: December 7, 2011

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.