Oklahoma County clerk, court clerk seats up for grabs during Nov. 3 election
Several Oklahoma County seats are up for grabs this election cycle, and many expect voter engagement to be higher than normal after a series of demonstrations at county meetings.
The Oklahoma County court clerk’s office — the largest in the state — handles and maintains court records, as well as processes the more than $60 million in court costs collected annually.
Incumbent Rick Warren, 69, was first elected in 2016. Throughout his campaign, Warren, a Republican, has highlighted changes he’s made to staff training, increased efficiencies in delivering services and collaboration with judges and other state agencies.
“I think we’re on the right path,” Warren said.
If reelected, Warren said he would focus on technology upgrades to allow for better communication between courts in the state.
Democrat Charles de Coune, 48, is challenging Warren and has been critical of Warren’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent protests at county meetings.
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Demonstrators have repeatedly shown up to meetings to protest how officials spent nearly all of the county’s $47 million in federal coronavirus relief funding, as well as decisions regarding ICE at the county jail and a failed attempt to change free speech rules on county property.
“I think people are understanding how important the position of court clerk has become,” de Coune said.
De Coune says he would increase transparency and openly provide data on the court fines and fees collected by the court clerk’s office, as well as starting a weekly Zoom meeting for constituents to ask questions and receive updates.
The county clerk’s office is in charge of the county’s payroll, finance records and meeting management. The office currently employs about 40 people.
Incumbent David Hooten, 57, was first elected in 2016. Hooten, a Republican, has focused on modernizing the county’s operations by making records and meetings more available to the public through videos and website upgrades.
Hooten previously said he has made records available in multiple languages, focused on keeping a conservative budget and begun programs to teach students about county government.
“I think the pandemic has shown how well we do run things at the county,” Hooten said. “It has given us another method to have meetings successfully and safely online.”
Hooten said he would introduce new employee training methods if reelected.
Challenging Hooten is Democrat Christina Chicoraske, a current Oklahoma City employee and former director of the Uptown 23rd District Association.
Chicoraske, 35, said since she announced her campaign in March, the pandemic has solidified her belief that the county has several inefficiencies when it comes to making sure the public has access to meetings, plentiful opportunities for public comment and a clear understanding of county business.
“I think people are ready for some progressive change at the county government level,” Chicoraske said. “Now more than ever, we have to rise to the challenge of making our county government even more accessible.”