After Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor lost the runoff primary Tuesday, a historic decision is now in the hands of voters.
Republican Candidate Tommie Johnson III said the celebration was short but meaningful.
“I’m very excited for this moment. I want to thank the Republican Party for offering, just blessing me with this opportunity to represent them. I think that is very big and it shows the strides that our party has come a long way,” Johnson said.
For the first time, Oklahoma County voters will choose between two Black candidates for sheriff.
Democratic candidate Wayland Cubit said it’s an incredible chance to be a role model.
“For me, it’s significant just because I like to encourage and inspire youth. So, for them to be able to look at something with a title and a platform like sheriff, it can give them something to point to and say that they can do it,” Cubit said.
Despite representing two different political parties, the candidates have similar platforms. Both are pushing for more fiscal transparency from law enforcement. Both want to implement reform based on community feedback and partnerships.
However, the men have different backgrounds in law enforcement.
Johnson lives in Oklahoma County, but has served in Cleveland County as an officer for the University of Oklahoma and Norman Police Departments.
He said there, he learned about investing in law enforcement resources.
“The police and law and order are essential to running a good strong community. We need that. We need that to keep things going. We need that to make people feel safe. Not only to feel safe but to be safe, and I think the police are a necessary part of that,” Johnson said.
Cubit is an Oklahoma City police officer who has focused heavily on youth outreach, mentorship and incorporating mental health resources into policing. Addressing mental health is a large part of his platform.
“I’ve engaged with the criminal justice system in all kinds of ways. I’ve dealt with mental health. I’ve dealt with addiction. I’ve dealt with DHS, DOC, I’ve dealt with all of those things as a member of the community,” Cubit said.