By Conrad Dudderar
Editor’s Note: Canadian and Oklahoma county polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. next Tuesday, April 6 for the State Senate District 22 special election. Yukon Republican Jake Merrick faces Edmond Democrat Molly Ooten, with the winner succeeding Stephanie Bice in the Oklahoma State Senate.
Yukon’s Jake Merrick wants to help make a “red” Senate district even redder.
Merrick, 39, is the Republican nominee in the Oklahoma State Senate District 22 special election. Ballots will be counted next Tuesday, April 6 across parts of Canadian and Oklahoma counties to determine who will fill a vacancy in the 48-member Senate.
Merrick, of NW 100th Street in Yukon, is vying against Edmond Democrat Molly Ooten in the special election to see who will fill Stephanie Bice’s old seat.
“People’s voice does matter, and their vote does count,” Merrick said. “While there’s skepticism about elections in general right now, I want to remind people we have a solid election process in Oklahoma. And their vote will make a big difference in this election.”
Special elections historically have a low voter turnout – so he knows every vote will matter.
“We not only want to win; we want to send a message to the rest of the state and throughout the district,” Merrick stressed. “District 22 is a conservative district.
“I know we have the majority. I would love to see everyone turn out to send that clear message that we’re not interested in turning blue.”
Senate District 22 is comprised of eastern Canadian County and northern Oklahoma County, including parts of Yukon, Piedmont, Edmond, and Deer Creek.
Although he’s the front-runner, the Republican contender has taken nothing for granted during the special election campaign.
“We’re still out every day, knocking doors and meeting people,” the constitutional conservative said. “We are confident, and we know the odds are in our favor because we’re in a ‘red’ district.
“The feedback at the doorstep is almost 100% positive. People are sick of what they’re seeing in D.C. and they want to make sure that Oklahoma’s protected.”
Merrick earned strong support among Republican voters in the Feb. 9th Senate District 22 primary, when he defeated Edmond’s Keri Shipley to earn the GOP nomination.
Early voting started Thursday and ends Saturday at the Canadian County Election Board in El Reno. Polling places across Senate District 22 will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day April 6.
The winner in Tuesday’s special general election will finish the final 21 months of an unexpired four-year term.
The new senator will succeed Bice, who is now Oklahoma’s 5th District congresswoman.
‘FIGHTING FOR OUR RIGHTS’
Two issues of utmost importance to Merrick are free speech and the right to bear arms.
“There’s a reason they are the First and Second amendments,” Merrick said. “And there’s a reason those are the first two things to be attacked.
“I believe we have to constantly defend those to ensure they are protected. If we lose those two things, then we lose everything. I want to ensure our freedom of speech is protected, our right to worship is protected, and our right to bear arms is protected.”
A major issue now is state’s rights – and that’s another priority to Merrick and the voters he’s heard from. He shared that many citizens are tired of federal government overreach on issues ranging from gun control to proposed vaccine passports.
“People want to elect someone who will fight for Oklahoma’s rights,” Merrick said.
Immigration is another concern many Oklahomans have, with a marked increase in migrants entering from Mexico at the U.S. southern border under the Biden administration.
Although they’re crossing the border in Texas, many are coming directly to Oklahoma.
“There’s concern about ‘what can we do to protect our borders’? and possibly work with Texas to do what the federal government refuses to do,” Merrick said.
The traditional family is another priority for Merrick, who believes family is the core unit of society.
“How can we incentivize families to stay together to have two-parent homes?” he said. “How can we incentivize fathers to be present and involved in their children’s lives?”
As a new Oklahoma legislator, Merrick is ready to endorse and introduce legislation that supports families, creates jobs and ends abortions while streamlining the adoption process.
He plans to push for parent choice in education so the “funding
follows the child.”
The District 22 candidate believes all this will contribute to stronger, more stable families in Oklahoma.
Merrick has been in ministry for the past 15 years and has owned his own businesses – in health and fitness and construction.
PRESERVING THE VALUES
While Canadian County has traditionally be strongly rural, it’s growing rapidly in and around cities like Yukon and Piedmont.
Merrick cited the onslaught of new housing developments and businesses especially on the county’s east side – which covers much of District 22.
“While we welcome the growth, we want to preserve the values that we’ve held onto for so long,” he said.
Much of eastern Canadian County is part of Senate District 22, and he’s looking forward to serving this area which he calls home.
“I am a resident of Canadian County,” said Merrick, who lives in Surrey Hills. “It’s where my wife and I started our family, so what happens in Canadian County – from roads to taxes – affects our family directly.”
Merrick stressed that all voters across Senate District 22 – both in Canadian and Oklahoma counties – will be a priority.
“It’s important that legislators live under the laws that they create,” he added. “I intend to do just that. I intend to create laws that I would love to live under myself.”
Merrick expects to be declared the victor after ballots are counted April 6. Upon taking office, he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work at the State Capitol.
Anticipating success in Oklahoma’s special District 22 election, Merrick already has been talking with Senate Republican leader Greg Treat and other sitting state lawmakers.
“I don’t know how many more bills will be left to deal with, but we’ll be working on the budget,” he said. “Whatever we need to do, I’m ready to jump in there and join them.”