Retired Teacher Elected To Fill OK House Seat Vacated By Dan Kirby
TULSA, Oklahoma - Voters chose a Democrat and retired teacher to represent House District 75 in Tuesday's special election.
The seat was held by Republican Dan Kirby, who resigned in the midst of a sexual harassment investigation.
Democratic candidate Karen Gaddis won with 52 percent of the vote. Her campaign slogan was S.O.S. - "Save Our State."
"I just saw education get kicked off the cliff," she said.
Gaddis retired from teaching in 2011 but saw what her friends and colleagues still in the classroom had to deal with.
"Things were just getting harder and harder, and they were getting more and more frustrated. And I had friends moving out of state and it just got to a point where I thought, 'Somebody's gotta stand up,'" Gaddis said.
Armed with the support of other educators - like Booker T. Washington's John Waldron, who himself ran for state senate last year, and canvassed for Gaddis - she gained momentum, even in a red state.
"S.O.S. originally meant Save Our Schools, but now it means Save Our State," she said.
Republican candidate Tressa Nunley, a realtor, touted her well-rounded business background throughout her campaign.
"I've been in health care, telecommunications, and for the last 12 years, a realtor. And, so, working with people and their budgets and helping them find homes," she said.
Nunley said she's proud of the campaign she ran.
"I'm so thankful for all the teams that have come out and help me,” she said. “We're talking rain, wind, heat, walkers."
Ultimately, voters prioritized education.
"We've done a lot of door-knocking, we've made hundreds of telephone calls, we've mailed out flyers, we've worked hard," Gaddis said.
Gaddis taught at Tulsa Public Schools for 40 years.
Two other special elections took place across the state, including one to replace former state senator Ralph Shorty.
Shorty resigned amid an investigation into sex crimes involving an underage male prostitute.
Democrat Michael Brooks beat out Republican Joe Griffin for his District 44 seat.
It represents much of south Oklahoma City and parts of Mustang and Yukon.