Republican voters will head to the polls Tuesday, Aug. 23 to select their candidate for Oklahoma County Clerk.
Incumbent Carolyn Caudill and David B. Hooten are meeting in the primary run-off election. The winner advances to the Nov. 8 general election against Libertarian candidate Chris Powell.
Caudill finished first in the four-way primary race with 32.14 percent of the vote. Hooten earned 30.87 percent and trailed Caudill by 914 votes.
Caudill, who was first elected in 1996, says she has the experience and dedication necessary for the position. Hooten, a local businessman and internationally renowned musician, believes he would bring much needed change to the County Cerk’s office.
During the past two decades, Caudill said she has saved taxpayers money by combining filing offices, implementing a unique and innovative public health benefits plan and others.
“I care a lot about the County Cerk’s office and know what needs to be done on a daily basis,” Caudill said. “This position requires knowledge of county government and the ability to manage people.”
Caudill says she’s also looking to the future with three projects to improve public service. She is working to develop a website that would share information between the clerk, court clerk, assessor and treasurer offices. The website would be a one-stop shop for information on property-ownership, taxes, liens, judgments and assessments.
She is also developing a “best practices” manual for the preservation of county clerk records and working with the state finance department to share software systems with smaller counties.
Hooten said he’s been concerned with Caudill’s performance and decided to run for the position. If elected, he promises to bring fresh ideas and conservative leadership to the office.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the private sector and I believe I can give people a better and more honorable choice for County Clerk,” Hooten said.
Hooten also questioned his opponent’s fitness for office. Caudill was arrested for DUI in 2013. The charge was later dismissed as part of a plea agreement. In June, Caudill was called out by former Governor Frank Keating for sending out a campaign postcard falsely claiming he endorsed her for reelection.
“She (Caudill) has done things that are unforgivable,” Hooten said.
Caudill said he regrets her mistakes. She said the false endorsement was an honest mistake and claimed responsibility for the oversight. She also questioned Hooten’s history of DUI. According to online court records, Hooten pleaded guilty to DUI and leaving the scene of an accident in 2001. Hooten would not elaborate on the incident, but said he’s put it behind him.
“That is less important than her recent issues,” he said. “It is sad that she is trying to drag me to her level.”
Caudill is also a former Kiowa County clerk and auditor with the state auditor and inspector’s office.
Hooten is a Grammy and Emmy nominated trumpet player who has performed across the globe. He also owns a production company, DBH Productions, and has written jingles for many campaigns and local businesses. Along with his music career, Hooten ran his family’s restaurant, Mama Lucia’s Italian Restaurant, for 15 years. He now markets David’s Meat Sauce, which is produced in Oklahoma and sold across the country.
Hooten also served as executive director for the Care Center (Child Abuse Response and Evaluation, Inc.). The non-profit organization works with law enforcement and healthcare professionals to support the victims of child abuse.
“In my career, I’ve learned to work with different agencies, manage assets and work with talented people,” Hooten said. “I think I’m very qualified to run the County Clerk’s office.”
This is Hooten’s second run at elected office. In 2014, he also unsuccessfully ran for State Senate.