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Locals hear from Republican candidates during meet-and-greet

Close to 100 community members gathered at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center Monday, June 10 to hear from local Republican candidates ahead of next week's primary election.

The Cherokee County Republican Party hosted the meet-and-greet, which featured eight candidates who are on the primary ballot. Cherokee County Republican Chair Carol Sneed-Jalbert said each candidate had two minutes to introduce themselves and give a brief speech.

OK Sen. Blake “Cowboy” Stephens, R-Tahlequah, for District 3 State Senate, said it was an honor serving for four years, a job he takes "very seriously."

"I've never missed a day of work since I've been elected in four years," Stephens said. "Not one minute have I missed at regular session nor in special session, a very rare thing today in any occupation but at the State Capitol, when I started in a pandemic year I never missed a minute of work."

Stephens calls himself a "man of faith" who still has a lot of work to do and he said he plans to keep serving the community he's involved in.

Patrick Sampson, who is also running for District 3 State Senate, serves on the Wagoner City Council and is an Air Force veteran. As a volunteer youth coach, Sampson said he's been serving his community for the last 20 years.

"I've knocked on a lot of doors and the one thing I've been telling people [is] that we are 'less than one generation away from not knowing the America that we grew up in.' We need people in there that are going to be active in the community, people that are going to fight for our constituents and fight for our municipal government because we have to get people that are going to do that," Sampson said.

His pledge throughout his campaign has been that he won't be taking any lobbyist money or PAC funds as he believes lobbyists have destroyed the country, and elected officials should be representing their constituents and not special interests.

District 3 State Senate candidate Dr. Julie McIntosh said she's served in her community for more than 20 years at the health department.

"I grew up in a family that loves America, are men served in the military, we pray for our country, and we love America and what she has been to us," McIntosh said. "I started out in a rather poor spot in life and America has been good to us. We have lived the American dream and I want to preserve that for our children, our constitutional liberties, and values."

Justin Hornback is running for corporation commissioner and he explained what the duties were of the elected position. He said he doesn't come from the political realm as he's a pipeline welder by trade.

"I have a business degree [and] I'm a certified welding inspector and a specialist in safety and health and I bring up those two certifications because it's all about reading code and regulations and applying it to the industry, which is exactly what the job of commissioner is," he said.

Hornback said he's had issues when dealing with the Oklahoma corporation commission, especially when it pertains to transparency and communication.

"A lot of people talk about making phone calls and never getting in touch with the people they need to talk to and I think that's something we definitely need to change. I've utilized my background in business with IT and database administration to incorporate efficiencies in an office environment so I know it can be done," he said.

Brian Bingman is also running for corporation commissioner and he said the potential role is an important position as it's the only state-wide race in Oklahoma during this election season.

"The seat that I'm running for, Bob Anthony has turned [down] after 36 years so there's a lot of institutional knowledge that's leaving the place and I think with my background, I've got over 40 years experience in the oil and gas industry. I have served as mayor of Sapulpa, which was a nonpartisan, nonpaying job for 10 years," Bingman said.

He also served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate before he was appointed as Oklahoma Secretary of State, Oklahoma Secretary of Native American Affairs, and Native American Affairs Liaison by Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Russell Ray, candidate for corporate commissioner, was unable to attend Monday's meet-and-greet.

Sheriff candidate Pete Broderick worked for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office for close to five years and is currently a task force agent with District 27 District Attorneys Office.

"We've had about 25 years of the same administration and [the sheriff] gave me a chance so I can thank him for that, absolutely and I will but it's time for a change. My platform has been the same since I started; it's professionalism; structure; integrity; and ethics and those are the key things we need to go backward on and make this county better again with the sheriff's office," Broderick said.

He added that there should be a specialized task force, specifically when dealing with narcotics and property crime as there is a "huge" drug problem in the county.

Former military serviceman and former law enforcement officer Clint Johnson asked if voters were "sick and tired" of "back-stabbing, lying, two-faced politicians in office."

"We all are, right? We got them right here in Cherokee County. How about politicians that go around behind your back and do something and think, 'Well, they're not going to get me out anyway because I own this seat?' Are we sick of that crap," Johnson said.

Additionally, Johnson said there can't be change if the same people keep getting voted into office. He said the biggest issues in the nation that aren't being dealt with are narcotics and child sex trafficking and exploitation, which he'd put investigators on right away if elected in office.

"That starts all the way from the local level all the way up to the federal level. We've got to change it, we've got to take our country back, we start [with] one person at a time and I'm running for sheriff to take our country back," he said.

Sheriff Jason Chennault and seeking reelection of his current post and he's worked a variety of roles at the sheriff's office for over 25 years.

"In that time, I've been a reserve deputy, a dispatcher, a jailer, a patrol deputy, an investigator, chief investigator, and I was the undersheriff for 13 years. I've spent over half my life serving the people of Cherokee County. I don't do my job for a title, I do my job so I can provide the best law enforcement service as possible to the people of Cherokee County," he said.

Afterward, attendees had the chance to go around and meet with each candidate and ask questions.

What's next

Early voting for the June 18 primary election is June 13 and June 14, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, June 15, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Cherokee County Election Board.


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