Although a Democrat will again represent Oklahoma House District 88 in the state legislature, its next occupant will be historic on multiple fronts.
Democratic Nominee Mauree Turner handily won over Republican Kelly Barlean by a more than 40% margin, or nearly 6,000 votes.
Turner will be the first Muslim lawmaker in Oklahoma and first nonbinary person, which means their gender identity is not strictly male or female, to hold state legislator in U.S. history.
“It feels really kind of remarkable. It’s still hard to put into words,” Turner said.
The 27-year-old said neighbors recommended they run for office last year.
“While I don’t really agree with career politicians, I do agree with answering a call to action,” Turner said. “My community asked me to run.”
Turner said being a queer minority raised in Oklahoma presented many challenges and that they will work to bring a community-first perspective to the capitol.
“A seat at the table is not something we were meant to be given,” Turner said. “I'm not asking for a seat at the table, but we're here to make a new table. We’re here to create new rooms.”
Criminal justice reform is a priority for Turner going into the first session of Oklahoma’s 58th legislature.
State Question 805, which failed at the ballot on Tuesday to reform state criminal sentencing rules, would have been a step in the right direction, Turner said.
“Our justice system is not a system that can be reformed, because that’s something we’ve been trying to do for a long time. But it needs to be reimagined and rebuilt,” they said. “Maybe we'll get another stab at 805.”
Turner will join a smaller cohort of Democrats in the House of Representatives. On Tuesday, Republicans extended their majority by securing 82 of the 101 seats.
Turner is working on possible legislation to file in the upcoming session, which starts in February.
“I’m all about working across the aisle for the greater good of Oklahoma, but I’m also about making sure that we are getting elected representation that cares about Oklahomans. Everyday Oklahomans.”