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Capital City: Elections continue generational shift in OKC

Good Wednesday morning. 

Elections were held across the state on Tuesday, including in Oklahoma City where James Cooper and JoBeth Hamonwon two open seats.

Cooper will be Oklahoma City's first openly gay councilman, winning a five-way race in Tuesday's primary to take inner-northwest's open Ward 2 seat.

Hamon will replace retiring Meg Salyer as the central city's councilwoman in Ward 6 following a grassroots campaign that topped a far better-funded competitor.

Voters in northwest and southwest Oklahoma City chose to stick with names they knew, electing Mark Stonecipher to a second term from Ward 8 and David Greenwell to a third term from Ward 5.

More on OKC race ... City council races are nonpartisan. But Tuesday was definitely a win for progressives in urban OKC. That's obviously been a story line for OKC elections of all levels over the last few years. Tuesday was also a continued wave of young candidates finding success. Especially hard working female candidates who ran on solution-driven platforms.

When Tuesday's winners are seated, five of Oklahoma City's nine elected officials will be 40 or younger, as the generational shift highlighted by David Holt's election as mayor last year deepens its hold on governance. The Oklahoman's Bill Crum has more on the shift

Edmond mayoral race ...Charles Lamb, who died in December, is headed to a runoff election for Edmond mayor after voters on Tuesday gave him enough votes for a top-two finish with former Mayor Dan O’Neil. The hope for Lamb supporters is that he will be re-elected posthumously, giving the city council the authority to pick his successor.

School bonds ... voters in Edmond and Norman on Tuesday approved school bond issues that will pay for new schools, classroom additions, storm shelters and security and technology upgrades among other improvements.

Norman mayor ... Breea Clark won Norman’s mayoral race, defeating Bill Hickman and Evan Dunn. The Norman Transcript has more

Criminal reform bills advance ... A bill aimed at reforming the state's parole system was approved Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee, as state lawmakers continued to advance changes sought by a criminal justice reform coalition.

House Bill 2273 would require the Pardon and Parole Board to state the reason when denying an inmate parole.

“If the goal of prison is to rehabilitate individuals, I feel we should be telling them why we’re denying them parole," said Rep. Josh West, R-Grove, the bill's sponsor.

Other bills to pass out of the Judiciary committee: Senate Bill 287 would limit so-called habitual offender sentences for people convicted of nonviolent crimes. Senate Bill 421 would outline the difference between simple drug possession and possession with intent to distribute.

Anti-abortion rally ... Several hundred anti-abortion activists gathered Tuesday at the state Capitol to urge Republican lawmakers to criminalize abortion.

The rally focused on Senate Bill 13, which would classify abortion as murder.

“It’s just so black and white to me that a baby is a baby,” said Lisa Waggoner, an Ada resident who attended the rally.

Like many at the rally, Waggoner said she believes abolishing abortion might have a better chance of surviving a legal challenge following last year’s conservative swing on the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, the Supreme Court voted last week to block a Louisiana law that put restrictions on abortion, indicating the court's position has not shifted as advocates of abortion restrictions have predicted.

State teacher loss ... A new report released by the state shows 30,000 Oklahoma teachers have left the profession in the past six years, reports the Tulsa World

“The loss of 30,000 educators over the past six years is staggering — and proof that our schools must have the resources to support a growing number of students with an increasing number of needs,” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said in a news release issued Tuesday about the report.

The 2018 Oklahoma Educator Supply & Demand Report indicates that the percentage of Oklahoma educators leaving the profession has increased over the past six years, representing more than 5,000 per year, a total of approximately 30,000.

Thanks for reading. Got questions, suggestions or complaints? Email me at bfelder@oklahoman.com. 

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Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›