City, county, state items on ballot

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A handful of Osage County political races and several state contests are on the ballot for the 2014 general election next Tuesday, Nov. 4.

In addition to three state questions to be considered, local voters will decide the fate of proposals for extending current municipal sales tax rates (see related story) and to allow a pair of amendments to the Pawhuska City Charter.

Two seats on the Osage County Commission and a race for county assessor are also to be voted on Tuesday.

Democratic incumbent Bob Jackson is seeking a second four-year term as Commissioner for District One, which includes Pawhuska. He is being challenged by Randall Jones, a Republican from Pawhuska. Jackson, of Grainola, was named to the office in an interim capacity following the late 2009 death of his former boss, Clarence Brantley. He was was re-elected in 2010 — defeating Jones by approximately 700 votes in a race in which nearly 4,800 ballots were cast.

District Three Commissioner Darren McKinney, a Democrat from Fairfax, will try to gain re-election to a full term. Opposing McKinney will be John Blackney, a Skiatook Republican. McKinney was voted into the office in early 2013 to complete the unexpired term of Jim Clark, who resigned for health reasons. Blackney was the second-place finisher in the election, which had originally drawn six candidates.

Longtime Osage County Assessor Gail Hedgcoth, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from Republican Raymond L. Leach of Hominy. Hedgcoth, of Pawhuska, has held the position since 1990.

District Judge John Kane of Pawhuska drew an opponent — Phil Best of Skiatook — for his District 10, Office 1 bench seat he has held since 2005. Members of the Osage County Bar Association recently voted unanimously to support Kane in his re-election bid.

A race for District 36 state representative will find Democrat Jim Massey of Sperry challenging Republican incumbent Sean Roberts of Hominy, who was first elected to the position in 2010.

Proposed amendments to the Pawhuska City Charter would adjust the filing period for Pawhuska City Council candidates (to coincide with local school district elections), as well as changing the starting times for meetings at which newly-elected council members are to be sworn in. State officials recommended both the proposals as ways for making local elections less costly and more efficient.

The state questions call for amending the Oklahoma Constitution to permit office-holders to simultaneously serve in military positions with the national guard or U.S. Reserves. Another would provide homestead exemption benefits to certain qualifying disabled veterans. The third proposes an amendment creating homestead exemptions for surviving spouses of military personnel who die in the line of duty.

EARLY VOTING

Early voting opportunities are being offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30-Nov. 1, at the Osage County Election Board office, 630 Kihekah Ave. The downtown polling site will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, while Saturday voting will take place from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., Election Board Secretary Andrea Conner said. As a result of an Oklahoma law passed last year, early voting is no longer conducted on Monday, Conner added.

In her bid for a second term, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, is being opposed by Democratic state legislator Joe Dorman of Rush Springs and two Independent candidates — Richard Prawdzienski and Kimberly Willis. Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb will face Democratic challenger Cathy Cummings.

The state race for a new Superintendent of Public Instruction will be between Republican Joy Hofmeister and John Cox, a Democrat. Hofmeister, a Tulsan, defeated one-term incumbent Janet Barresi in the April primary. Incumbent Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, a Republican, is to face a challenge from Democrat Mike Workman.

Eight retention votes for state judicial positions also are on the ballot.

Oklahoma voters will be filling both of the state’s U.S. Senate positions and four of the five congressional seats.

Republican U.S. Congressman James Lankford of Edmond, Democrat Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City and Independent Mark T. Beard are contending for the Senate seat being vacated by Tom Coburn.

At age 79, incumbent senior Sen. Jim Inhofe is seeking a fourth six-year term in the upper house after serving four full stints in the U.S. House. Inhofe, a Tulsa Republican, will face Democratic primary winner Matt Silverstein of Bixby and three independent candidates — Aaron DeLozier, Joan Farr of Broken Arrow and Ray Woods.

Oklahoma’s Third District Congressman, Frank Lucas, defeated two primary challengers in his bid for a ninth term in the U.S. House. Lucas, a Republican from Cheyenne, is opposed by Medford Democrat Frankie Robbins.