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What's on the ballot for the February 13th special election in Oklahoma

A raft of bills reflect lawmakers' desire to change how Oklahomans vote and what they vote on. In this file photo, residents of Weatherford, a college town an hour west of Oklahoma City, voted at Life Fellowship Church on Nov. 8, 2022.
Whitney Bryen
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Oklahoma Watch
In this file photo, residents of Weatherford vote at Life Fellowship Church on Nov. 8, 2022.

Voters in 57 counties across Oklahoma are heading to the polls on Tuesday to consider school bonds, city councilors and a new state representative for West Edmond.

Polls for the special election open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To find your polling place and view a sample ballot, visit Oklahoma’s voter portal. 

Education reform, tax cuts among top issues for HD39 candidates in Edmond

Three legislative hopefuls are vying for the House District 39 seat in Tuesday’s special election.

The candidates on the ballot are Democrat Regan Raff, Republican Erick Harris and Libertarian Richard Prawdzienski.

Formerly held by Republican Ryan Martinez, the district is expected to stay within GOP control. Martinez announced his resignation from state office in August last year after pleading guilty to non-driving DUI charges, for sitting behind the wheel while intoxicated in downtown Edmond.

Harris won the December Republican primary election by a margin of 391 votes. During a debate in Edmond last week, he said the most vital issues facing the district and the state are low public school attendance and redundant spending within state agencies.

From left to right are House District 39 Candidates: Republican Erick Harris, Libertarian Richard Prawdzienski and Democrat Regan Raff.
OPMX
From left to right are House District 39 Candidates: Republican Erick Harris, Libertarian Richard Prawdzienski and Democrat Regan Raff.

“Time and time again, we see state agencies where they are repeating the same thing as another agency, and that's wasting money,” Harris said. “It's wasting resources, and those resources we could put somewhere else.”

He also supports a quarter of a percent state income tax cut, explaining that a reduction in state agency expenditures could help justify it.

Raff handily won her Democratic primary but faces an uphill battle in the deep red district. She says her priorities are to help teachers feel safe when on the job and to pass a grocery tax cut.

“Each day, I feel like our educators are under attack, they are faced with constant threats and rhetoric and name-calling and bullying,” Raff said. “Those things start at the top, and we have to discourage that behavior.”

Prawdzienski said his most important issue is seeing growth in the district and across Oklahoma, as long as it’s what he calls “natural.”

“If we want growth, we need to do it naturally,” he said. “We’re bringing in 50,000 people from where? Different cultures — in Edmond. We’re gonna bring in thousands and thousands into Oklahoma, and our culture is going to be significantly changed.”

Prawdzienski, like his Republican opponent, supports a state income tax cut.

Tulsa area school bonds

Millions of dollars of bonds for schools in the Tulsa area will be voted on this week. Bixby, Sand Springs and Jenks school districts are seeking upgrades to infrastructure and technology.

Sand Springs

Sand Springs Public Schools is asking for the most money of the three districts at about $115 million. The Sandites are hoping to build a new addition to Clyde Boyd Middle School, upgrade the press box at Charles Page High School, and bring some areas into compliance with accessibility laws.

There’s a public information session planned for Monday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 at Clyde Boyd. For more information on the bond, click here.

Jenks

The biggest ask from Jenks Public Schools in its $19 million package is for upgrades to its Freshman Academy. The district also wants to improve the high school’s pool and tennis facilities.

For more information, click here.

Bixby

Bixby Public Schools wants land for a new school, a new gym at its 9th Grade Center, and better technology. It says enrollment is expected to increase 4% annually for the next ten years.

For more information on the $12 million proposal, click here.

Edmond Public Schools bond

Voters in the Edmond Public Schools district will decide the fate of a $147 million bond package.

The first proposition of $144 million would fund the construction of new elementary and middle schools and a new “Freshman Academy” at Edmond Santa Fe High School. There would also be security improvements and new turf for baseball and softball fields at all three high schools.

A second proposal would put $3 million to pay for new school buses and vehicles.

Bond issues require a 60% supermajority to pass. If approved, school officials claim residents will not see a property tax increase.

More information can be found here.

Tuttle Public Schools bond

People living in the Tuttle Public Schools district are being asked to help finish progress started by a $4.75 million bond passed in 2021. That bond was primarily aimed at transforming the high school’s football stadium and field house.

Its approval triggered a private donation of $9 million by Tuttle alum and Paycom founder Chad Richison. Another $4.5 million left over from a 2019 bond issue was also folded into the football stadium plan.

Now, district residents will vote on two more proposals.

The first of which seeks $995,000 to be largely used to complete facilities needed for track and field, as well as athletic training supplies and cheerleading mats and megaphones. It would also address roof repairs and new playground equipment.

A second bond proposal seeks $250,000 for new buses for the district.

More information on the proposals can be found here.

Weatherford Community Center

Weatherford voters will decide whether or not to renew a half cent sales tax for 10 years to build a family community center, which will feature indoor and outdoor pools, fitness and exercise equipment, basketball, pickleball and volleyball gyms and childcare facilities. The city would own the center and partner with YMCA to operate it.

The extension is projected to raise between $12 to $13 million over the 10 year-period. Private donations will then be added to the total cost of the project, which is estimated at $18 million total.

More information on the proposed project can be found here.

More elections

Calumet Public Schools seeks approval of a $2.6 million bond proposal to expand and renovate the school’s kitchen, upgrade computer labs and update classroom technology. There is no projected tax increase.

Depew Public Schools voters will consider a $360,000 proposition that will fund the repair and replacement of playground equipment, roofs and school furniture.

Okmulgee Public Schools seeks to win approval of a $17.7 million bond proposal to construct a new multipurpose building and install a new roof at the elementary school, as well as make improvements to the football stadium and track.

Weleetka Public Schools voters will consider an $8.5 million bond issue that would largely fund athletic facilities, including the construction of a track, new turf for football, softball and baseball, and new gymnasium improvements.

Western Heights Public Schools seeks approval of a $2.9 million bond package to improve security, build new fences and acquire two school buses.

City of Perkins residents will consider two quarter-cent sales taxes that would help fund improvements to the town library and parks and recreation facilities. If approved, the tax increases are expected to generate $100,000 annually and cost the average taxpayer just less than $3 per month.

Norman voters in half of the city's eight wards will head to the polls to choose their councilmembers. More information can be found here.

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Voters can learn more about this election by visiting their local election board or by seeing a sample ballot on their voter portal via the State Election Board website.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Lionel Ramos covers state government for a consortium of Oklahoma’s public radio stations. He is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos with a degree in English. He has covered race and equity, unemployment, housing, and veterans' issues.
Ryan LaCroix joined KOSU’s staff in 2013. He hosts All Things Considered, Oklahoma Rock Show, Oklahoma Rock Show: Rewind, and Oklahoma Music Minute.
Oklahoma Public Media Exchange
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