An Explanation of Judicial Races in Oklahoma County

The map of judicial divisions within District 7 / Oklahoma County.  Click on the map to enlarge it.

The map of judicial divisions within District 7 / Oklahoma County. Click on the map to enlarge it.

If you live in the Oklahoma City metro area, you are seeing signs for judicial candidates on every corner.   I am convinced there aren’t five people that understand how our judges are elected.   And I was frustrated that even though I am a senator and an attorney, I felt out of the loop, too.   Today, I have changed that, and now I’m helping you.   Increasing civic participation is a passion of mine. If you live in Oklahoma County, please read this and feel free to share it.

 

At the higher levels of our state’s judicial system, such as the state supreme court, judges are considered for retention on your statewide ballot, but they are not opposed by other candidates.   At the district level, however, people actually run competitively, and candidates can oppose sitting judges. It is worth noting that candidates for judge do not run under an affiliation with any political party.   They also do not run to be criminal or civil judges.   They merely run to be judges, and what type of cases they handle is decided after the election.   It is also worth noting that there is so much work in Oklahoma County that there are also non-elected “special judges” who are appointed by the elected judges.

 

The state is divided into judicial districts, and Oklahoma County has the same boundaries as District 7. Judges and district attorneys are state officials, and their constituencies are the districts, not the counties.   It is just for convenience that Oklahoma County has the same boundaries as District 7.   In other parts of the state, districts cover multiple counties.

 

District 7 / Oklahoma County has 15 elected district judge “offices”.   All 15 district judge offices face the voters at the same time every four years. Seven of the 15 face the voters of the entire district / county, and therefore are known as “at large” district judge offices.   The other eight are elected by smaller portions of the district / county.   And here it gets a little complicated.   The district / county is divided into four “divisions” – 1, 2, 3, and 4.   Each division has two district judge “offices” that are elected by the voters of the entire division.   So, therefore, a voter in District 7 / Oklahoma County theoretically has the ability to weigh in on nine total district judge offices.   In practice, because many candidates run unopposed, a voter will see a far smaller number of offices on their ballot.

 

Just to add one more wrinkle: Every county in Oklahoma is additionally represented by one office called an associate district judge.   That office is also a four-year term on the same schedule.

 

It is important to keep straight the difference between the words “district”, “division” and “office”.   These words are all used here to refer to very specific things.

 

The map of the divisions in District 7 / Oklahoma County is shown with this post.

 

Here’s how it breaks down:

 

All voters in the district / county can vote on the seven “at large” district judges – known as offices 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15.

 

Voters in division 1 of the district / county also vote on offices 1 and 9.

 

Voters in division 2 of the district / county also vote on offices 3 and 10.

 

Voters in division 3 of the district / county also vote on offices 2 and 11.

 

Voters in division 4 of the district / county also vote on offices 4 and 12.

 

The previously mentioned one elected office known as an associate district judge is considered by all the voters of Oklahoma County.

 

Ten sitting district judges that filed in April of this year were not opposed by any candidate and were automatically re-elected for another four years.   In two cases, the sitting judge is retiring, and in both cases, two candidates filed in each open office.   In three cases, the sitting judge is opposed by one person.   Here is how the 15 district judge offices and the one associate district judge office break down:

 

Office 1: Aletia Timmons and Joel Porter are competing to fill this open office.   Only voters in division 1 will be able to vote.

 

Office 2: Thomas Prince and K. Williams are competing for this seat.   Thomas Prince is the incumbent.   Only voters in division 3 will be able to vote.

 

Office 3: Donald Deason and Orenthal Denson are competing for this seat.   Donald Deason is the incumbent.   Only voters in division 2 will be able to vote.

 

Office 4: Bryan Dixon was elected without opposition to another term in this office that represents division 4.

 

Office 5: Patricia Parrish was elected without opposition to another term in this “at large” office that represents the entire district / county.

 

Office 6: Timothy Henderson was elected without opposition to another term in this “at large” office that represents the entire district / county.

 

Office 7: Cindy Truong was elected without opposition to another term in this “at large” office that represents the entire district / county.

 

Office 8: Glenn Jones was elected without opposition to another term in this “at large” office that represents the entire district / county.

 

Office 9: Bernard Jones was elected without opposition to another term in this office that represents division 1.

 

Office 10: Bill Graves was elected without opposition to another term in this office that represents division 2.

 

Office 11: Barbara Swinton was elected without opposition to another term in this office that represents division 3.

 

Office 12: Lisa Davis was elected without opposition to another term in this office that represents division 4.

 

Office 13: Roger Stuart and Amy Palumbo are competing for this seat.   Roger Stuart is the incumbent.   All voters of the district / county will be able to vote on this “at large” office.

 

Office 14: Ray Elliott was elected without opposition to another term in this “at large” office that represents the entire district / county.

 

Office 15: Jarrod Stevenson and Don Andrews are competing to fill this open office.   All voters of the district / county will be able to vote on this “at large” office.

 

Associate District Judge: Richard Kirby was elected without opposition to another term in this office that represents the entire county.

 

I hope you found this helpful as you begin to make an educated decision on Tuesday, November 4th.   One final note – You don’t have to examine the map to figure out what your ballot will look like on Tuesday, November 4th.   You can go to www.elections.ok.gov, click on the Online Voter Tool, click Search Now, and follow the prompts for personal information.   Under Sample Ballots, you will see an example of what your ballot will look like on November 4th.