MIAMI — With last week’s filing period ending Friday, all candidates for local races are now set for election day. A few incumbents retained their seats, others filed and were unopposed, some will be decided in a two-candidate race, but most races will need to be narrowed first by primary elections.
Primary elections will be held Tuesday June 16, run-off elections are scheduled for Aug. 28 and General Elections on Nov. 6, according to the Ottawa County Election Board.
A Primary election is an election where voters choose who will represent their political party in the general election. When only one person is running for a political seat, there is no primary, and that candidate moves on to the general election uncontested.
If no candidate receives at least a minimum percentage of the vote in the primary election, there will be a subsequent run-off election between the top vote getters to determine the party candidate.
During the general local and state elections voters elect officeholders from the final election determined candidates.
Oklahoma District 7 State Representative
A race between incumbent Democrat candidate Ben Loring of Miami and Republican William Leonard of Miami will decide who takes the Oklahoma District 7 State Representative seat.
U.S. Army Veteran, William Leonard of Miami, says Oklahoma’s current budgeting problems brought him into politics. Leonard said he takes a practical look at issues from a working class viewpoint.
“It got me started digging and the more I started digging the more I started seeing that the people who have a voice aren’t using it. They’re choosing to not vote or put their own personal opinions ahead of what the opinions of their constituents are,” Leonard said. “I’ve always had an interest in government not necessarily the political game but the actual government happenings. I was affected by it when I was in the Army.”
Leonard currently works as Buffalo Run Casino Host. He is a graduate of Claremore High School. Leonard is single and has a two-year old daughter and has been living in Miami for the past two years.
“I have lived, learned, worked, played and worshiped here in Ottawa County for 38 years. I met and married my lovely wife Barbara and raised my two sons, David and Ian here,” Loring’s said in his campaign biography. ”I served as the District Attorney for eight years and First Assistant District Attorney under Eddie Wyant for 12 years. I have had the great honor of serving as your State Representative for the last two years. I have spent a huge portion of my professional career protecting the most vulnerable members of society. I have prosecuted those that have physically abused or financially exploited senior citizens or others with disabilities, which might prevent them from being able to protect themselves. I have pursued protection cases where babies and small children have been abused, neglected and molested, and criminally prosecuted those that are responsible. I have also been the legal advisor to City of Miami and Ottawa County officials with the goal of assisting them to legally accomplish what they think needs to be done on behalf of the citizens. To do all of this, I daily work with the laws passed by our Legislature. Most of those laws help accomplish what we all want. But I have also dealt with some disasters that our Legislature has passed, that do nothing but hamstring the needs and desires of the citizens. I understand the legislative process and the consequences of the legislature’s actions.”
Thirteenth Oklahoma District Attorney
Thirteenth Oklahoma District Attorney Kenny Wright will serve another term after no candidate filed in opposition.
“I am excited and honored to have the privilege of serving as the District Attorney for Delaware and Ottawa Counties for another four years,” Wright said Monday. “I am thankful to my family, friends, and coworkers for their support during my first term. We are so blessed to live in a fantastic place with wonderful people. I will continue to focus on ensuring the safety of our communities as a minister of justice. I look forward to continuing our work with Sheriff Floyd and Sheriff Moore as well as all the federal, tribal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies we work with every day. I know the challenges will continue. The spread of destruction from methamphetamine and opioid addiction shows no signs of slowing. We meet these challenges with an ever decreasing budget, but we continue to fight. We will persevere. We will prevail.”
Thirteenth Judicial District Judge
The Thirteenth Judicial District Judge, Office 1 race drew only one candidate Judge Barry Denney of Jay. Judge Robert Haney plans to retire at the end of the year.
Denney is spending this week at a domestic violence conference, which focuses on how the court system can better deal with the issue.
Denney said the training will be beneficial as he works towards setting up one of his goals, a specific docket for domestic violence cases.
In Ottawa County, Denney would like to see the establishment of community sentencing — which already exists in Delaware County.
He believes the community sentencing docket, along with drug court, help provide ways to keep individuals within the community, and to provide rehabilitation not available to those sent to prison.
If funding is found, Denney would like to start a mental health docket, to help focus on offenders with mental health issues, much like drug court works with those with substance issues.
Ottawa County Associate District Judge
The race is on for Ottawa County Associate District Judge with two candidates vying for the seat to be vacated by retiring Associate Judge Robert Reavis, who is retiring after nearly 24 years on the bench.
Jennifer Ellis McAffrey of Quapaw and Douglas Pewitt of Miami have filed as candidates. Each candidate submitted biographies and candidate information.
“Rooted. Responsible, ready,” Miami native Jennifer Ellis McAffrey believes these are some of the key characteristics that make her the right choice to become Ottawa County’s next Associate District Judge. McAfferey has served for nearly 11 years as an Assistant District Attorney in Ottawa County.
“My experience as a prosecutor has given me an opportunity to observe and understand the issues that face the citizens of our county,” she said. “Having grown up here, I have a special connection to this community and a genuine desire to see it thrive and prosper. I see everyday the problems and concerns of our citizens and I believe I can use my unique perspective to help address those needs.”
A 2001 graduate of Miami High School, McAffrey attended the University of Oklahoma where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 2004. She then earned her Juris Doctor degree in 2007 from the OU School of Law. Upon graduation, she returned to Miami to accept the position of Assistant District Attorney. Her diverse caseload includes both felony and misdemeanor cases, running the full gamut from violent crimes and drug offenses, to juvenile prosecution and deprived child cases.
Married with two children, McAffrey believes raising her family in our county gives her valuable insight into the concerns many Ottawa County families have when it comes to their personal safety and property interests, as well as their expectations of the local court system.
“There’s no substitute for doing this work on a daily basis and seeing how our local court system directly impacts families,” she said. “This job boils down to practical, everyday decision-making that we can all benefit from, when it’s done right. I’m committed to making that happen.”
McAffrey has also dedicated countless hours volunteering and serving the needs of the community through various civic clubs and organizations serving as board president of the Boys and Girls Club, she has worked to help grow the organization and provide a safe place for area youth to learn, participate in activities, and become successful. She is also a long-time member of the Miami Kiwanis Club, the Ottawa County Bar Association, Miami Area Young Professionals, and the Multi-disciplinary Child Abuse Team, which uses a collaborative approach to address the unique issues of sensitive cases as they progress through the court system.
“In my experience, I’ve found that few things are as rewarding as service. Using your talents and abilities to make tangible change is incredibly satisfying and motivates me to keep building on that momentum. At this point in my career, this judgeship is a natural progression for me. I’m rooted in this community, I’m responsible in my actions, and I’m ready to take on this role with the passion and energy it deserves,” she said. “I’m the right person, at the right time,” McAffrey said.
Douglas Pewitt is a native of Miami. Pewitt graduated from Miami High School in 1984. He attended the University of Oklahoma as a National Merit Scholar. He graduated from OU with his BA in 1989, then attended the University of Tulsa College of Law and graduated with his JD in 1992.
Doug married Dolly Pewitt in 1998 and together they have raised five wonderful children. Their family is Zeb and Amanda Burt, Ally Burt, Sarah and Zaine Gibson, Elosia Pewitt and Sophia Pewitt, along with four beautiful grandkids, Emalyn, Atreyu, Presley and Sunnie.
Pewitt practiced law at a firm in Muskogee and Miami before being hired on as an Assistant District Attorney for Ottawa and Delaware Counties for two years. He primarily handled the cases dealing with crimes against women and children.
He opened his private practice in 1999, working as a general practitioner. He has experience in a variety of areas of the law to include divorce, child custody, Indian Child Welfare cases, probates, real estate matters, civil rights matters and constitutional law. He is proud of the work he has done through the years assisting victims of domestic violence.
Pewitt joined the Army Reserves in 1987. He was awarded Drill Sergeant of the Cycle, Honor Graduate – Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, and the Distinguished Service Medal before retiring after 24 years of service to our Country. He is a past board member for the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and American Red Cross, local chapters.
He served one mobilization at Fort Sill and one deployment in Afghanistan. After deployment he worked for three years at the Ministry of Defense in Kabul, Afghanistan, as a training and education advisor to the Afghan National Army. After returning home he practices law at Crutchfield Pewitt Law Offices located in Miami. He is in his 26th year as an attorney.
“I have always had a high regard for Judges. The best Judges are courteous and professional towards those who appear in Court. They are diligent, knowledgeable and carefully apply the law without prejudice. That is my goal if elected.”
Ottawa County Commissioner District 1
The filing period for Ottawa County Commissioner District 1 drew a large response with five candidates, Democrats Kevin Dunkel, Mike Furnas, Ricky Sharp, Republicans Mike Moore and Shane Redden have filed to run to replace John Clarke who is retiring.
Ottawa County Commissioner District 2
Incumbent Democrat Russell Earls will run against Democrat Will Sampson to retain his District 2 seat with the Ottawa County Commissioners.
(See Friday’s edition of the Miami News-Record for more information on the Ottawa County Commissioner District 1 and 2 candidates).
Ottawa County Assessor
Incumbent Democrat Becky Smith was the only candidate filing for the office of Ottawa County Assessor and will therefore retain her office.
Ottawa County Treasurer
Incumbent Democrat Kathey Bowling was the only candidate filing for the office of Ottawa County Treasurer and will therefore retain her office.
Delaware County Associate District Judge
Two candidates are in the race for Delaware County Associate District Judge, Kathy Lungren Baker of Grove and Dave Crutchfield of Afton.
Craig County Associate District Judge
The race for the Craig County Associate District Judge drew candidates Clint Ward of Vinita and Joseph M. Gardner also of Vinita.