Candidate Filings for State Offices

Last week, candidates seeking state office filed their paperwork with the Oklahoma Election Board during the three-day filing window at the state Capitol.

This is an exciting time for first-time office seekers. They come to the Capitol with stars in their eyes and high hopes that they can change things for the better for their fellow Oklahomans.

Even those seeking to return as an incumbent can get a few butterflies wondering who might run against them.

Some politicians who got defeated in a prior run come back for another round. This time will be different, they assure themselves. 

Some hopefuls arrive at the Capitol early, paperwork in hand, every i dotted and every t crossed. Others come with nary a clue. I have to pay to run for political office, they ask.

One incumbent got to the Capitol at 6:30 a.m. the first day of filing this year, just to be the first to file.

Rep. Terry O’Donnell

Some come solo. Others bring spouses, children, parents, other family members or friends. Many take selfies and post on social media the second they’ve filed. The Election Board even accommodated this year with a selfie station, complete with a background listing the Election Board’s website. It became a popular place to take photos and commemorate the big moment.

Some people even dress especially for the occasion. I spotted one lady in a flag kimono this year.

Once filing is over, the hard work of campaigning begins. Smart candidates will be out knocking doors, getting to know their constituents, listening to their concerns, hearing their ideas, detailing their platforms and accomplishments.

Filing to hold a state legislative or congressional seat or another post such as governor, state treasurer, corporation commissioner, etc. is a momentous occasion. It’s a commitment saying you will have the concerns of everyone you represent at heart. Your new bosses will be numerous, and they will hold your feet to the fire if you do something they don’t like. But there is absolutely nothing more rewarding than public service.

This is the first time in 12 years that I haven’t taken part in the filing process. I’m term limited this year, so it was a bittersweet moment watching others file to run for office. Bitter because I won’t be returning to the Capitol next year to represent House District 23. Sweet because I won’t be returning to the Capitol next year …

The last part is a joke, of course, I’ve loved serving the constituents of House District 23. Since my first swearing-in in 2012, I’ve enjoyed learning the legislative process and serving in House leadership. It’s been a sweet ride, one I wouldn’t trade. I wish the next office holders all the best.

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