By Traci Chapman
Candidates for Oklahoma’s Senate District 45 seat are heading into their final week of campaigning before an Aug. 8 special election.
Nine people – seven Republicans and two Democrats – in June filed for the opportunity to run for the seat, held by Kyle Loveless before his April resignation. Next Tuesday, they will face off in a primary election encompassing Canadian, Cleveland and Oklahoma counties, which may decide who among them will move forward to the Nov. 14 general election.
The seven Republicans who filed for the chance to succeed Loveless come from a variety of backgrounds. They are:
• Mathew Hamrick, 36, Yukon
• Scott Harris, 33, Mustang
• Diane Means, 56, Oklahoma City
• Kerry Pettingill, 58, Mustang
• Paul Rosino, 54, Oklahoma City
• Duane Smith, 62, Oklahoma City
• Brian Walters, 41, Oklahoma City
Mat Hamrick says his experience as a state procurement officer gives him an advantage when it comes to understanding Oklahoma funding and budget challenges. Hamrick has served as chief procurement officer for state agencies since 2013 – first at Department of Mental Health Substance Abuse Services, until August 2015, and then Department of Environmental Services, he said. He currently serves as DEQ’s chief procurement officer.
As an attorney, sole practitioner Scott Harris works to ensure Constitutional freedoms for his clients, concentrating on foreclosure and criminal defense and debt issues, he said. What he has experienced in that capacity led him to push for criminal justice reform, as well as other top priorities like education and the continuing state budget crisis. Harris said common sense was the smart way to approach all aspects of government.
Dr. Diane Means
The only woman – and only doctor – to run for the SD 45 seat, Dr. Diane Means said she hoped to heal issues facing people in the district, including the scars left as a result of a spate of recent state legislator-related scandals. Self-funding her campaign, Means cited the budget as her first priority, saying Oklahoma – like its residents – should stop trying to live beyond its means.
Kerry Pettingill has seen a lot in his career, both at Oklahoma Highway Patrol, where he ultimately served as its chief, and as state Homeland Security Director. That wealth of experience, as well as his current position with an oil and gas company, gave him knowledge of governmental inner workings, personnel and other things some candidates might not have, he said. That very experience also illustrated what Pettingill called his defining goal – to live a life of service, something he said was important to him and his family.
Paul Rosino started his military career straight out of high school, retiring in 2006 after 25 years. Completely switching gears upon that retirement, the former military man decided to get his real estate license and open his own firm – something he did with Rosino Realty, which serves Yukon, Moore and south Oklahoma City. Rosino describes himself as an “across-the-board conservative,” believing in personal responsibility and limited government, supports right-to-life, opposes tax increases and supports Second Amendment rights as a NRA member and concealed carry license holder.
Duane Smith’s campaign is based on what he calls “real world experience, common sense leadership,” a strategy that focuses on strong leadership and an atmosphere conducive to business promotion. Smith worked for 32 years at Oklahoma Water Resources Board, 12 of them as its director. He later founded his own water consulting company, working with municipalities and agricultural producers, county governments and more, he said, but his most profound experience was his experience as adoptive father to his son, Tyler – an experience he said he would like to use to help families in the adoption process.
A former Oklahoma City councilman from 2007 to 2011, Brian Walters now owns an estate settlement service company. According to Walters’ website, he previously was a farm equipment company finance director and administrator; he has worked developing forecasts and budgets in both energy and farming industries, it states. Walters earned both undergraduate and masters degrees from University of Oklahoma and is currently working toward obtaining his public accountant certification.
Democrats will also head to the phones for a primary which features Steven Vincent, 51, of Mustang, who will face 43-year-old Oklahoma City resident Noah Ynclan.
Steven Vincent has worked as both a 911 dispatcher for Oklahoma City and crime scene investigator for Oklahoma City Police Department, positions he has held for a combined 10-plus years. In his dispatch position, Vincent has fielded more than 100,000 calls, including during the May 20, 2013 tornadoes, he said. The Mustang man, who served in U.S. Army Oklahoma National Guard 45th Infantry Brigade, said he also worked as a reserve police officer in Maud, Oklahoma.
Ynclan served in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer and airborne infantryman, as well as in Army Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Division, he said. The Oklahoma City man said he obtained both bachelor and masters of science degrees in criminal justice and security management and completed one year of doctoral work in human services. He works as a field service technician.
Polls in SD 45 will be open between 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Canadian County voters can cast early ballots in the race from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 and from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Aug. 5 at the county election board in El Reno.
By law, anyone voting in person must show proof of identity, either through a valid federal, state or tribal photo ID, state-issued voter identification card or an affidavit provided by polling officials. Anyone voting by affidavit will cast a provision ballot, which will only be counted once the given identity is verified with official registration records, Canadian County Election Board Secretary Wanda Armold said.
Physically disabled voters may ask for assistance from a person of their choosing, and anyone casting a ballot who is blind, visually impaired or disabled may request and use the ATI – audio-tactile interface – which is available on all state voting devices, either at their local polls or at the election board office.
Armold aid anyone who becomes physically unable to cast a ballot after 5 p.m. Aug. 1 may request an emergency absentee ballot, available by calling her office.
Canadian County Election Board is located at 200 S. Bickford in El Reno and can be reached by phone at 405-422-2422; more information can be found online from Oklahoma State Election Board at www.elections.ok.gov.