By JOHN M. WYLIE II
Three offices in the Rogers County Courthouse will have new occupants in January and liquor by the drink soon will be available in the county on Sundays following Tuesday’s primary election.
Matt Ballard defeated incumbent District Attorney Janice Steidley and a second challenger, Erin Oquin. He will face Democrat Robert Post in the November General Election.
District-wide Balard had 61.1 percent of the vote, Oquin had 25.1 percent of the vote and Steidley had 13.8 percent of the vote.
Jason Carini defeated 23-year incumbent County Treasurer Cathy Pinkerton Baker by a margin of 51.22 percent to 48.78 percent. He will take office in January since no Democrat filed for the past.
Both Steidley and Baker had changed their party registration from Democrat to Republican with a general election challenge in mind since both the state and county had moved so far into the Republican column.
However, both had Democrat and independent supporters who couldn’t vote in Tuesday’s GOP primary because Oklahoma operates under a closed primary system (which means only registered Republicans can vote in Republican primaries, only Democrats can vote in Democratic primaries and independents can’t vote in primaries at all except on any local or state questions.)
County Commissioner Kirt Thacker was ousted by challenger Ron Burrows by a margin of 67.92%-32.08% in the GOP primary. Burrows will face Democrat Dell Davis in the general election.
The Sunday Liquor County Question passed 57.36%-42.64%–a comfortable margin but somewhat less than backers had expected.
There was no public direct opposition, but there were concerns expressed in some quarters about the fact that liquor by the drink will be allowed not only in restaurants but also in “pure” bars that serve little or no food.
The measure allows serving of strong beer, wine and mixed drinks by the drink on Sundays, Christmas and Thanksgiving. It does not affect liquor stores, which will remain closed on those days.
Perhaps the hottest race in the state was that for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The incumbent, Janet Barresi, drew heavy fire from a wide variety of both average citizens and public education advocates because of her controversial A-F grading system for schools and back-to-back disasters in standardized testing of students.
She came in third in a three-way race despite spending almost $1 million of her own money. Joy Hoffmeister easily won the right to run against the winner of a Democratic runoff in August. But the interesting fact was that Brian S. Kelly, who filed for office but then skipped debates, voter guide participating or advertising came in second place.
Barresi took a special drubbing in Rogers County, where she got just 14.89 percent of the vote compared to 21.38 percent for Kelly and 63.72 percent for Hoffmeister.
The result, both here and statewide, was part of a double-barreled celebration for Tulsa School Superintendent Keith Ballard. The former Oologah-Talala and Claremore superintendent was among Baressi’s strongest critics and Hoffmeister’s strongest supporters.
He gave television interviews about his pleasure about the state superintendent’s race from the victory party for his son, Matt Ballard.