OKLAHOMA CITY - More than 450 people have filed to run for office Wednesday, election board officials report.
According to the Oklahoma State Election Board, this is the most amount of people on the first day of filing since at least 2000.
Merleyn Bell, who is seeking the House seat for District 47, said she decided to run last year.
"Education is so important," Bell said. "Even though I live in Norman, in what some consider a really great school district, I see us on a path to some of the other challenges like four day school weeks."
Some candidates like John Waldron are currently teachers. Waldron, who ran in 2016 for a Senate seat, teaches in Tulsa. He said the ongoing walkout impacted his decision to file as a candidate again.
Waldron is running for District 77 seat in the House, which is currently held by Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa. Proctor is term-limited.
"He was a 23-year-old teacher when he decided to run for office. He’s a real inspiration. He’s fought hard for public education and the people for his district," said Waldron.
Other candidates like Carly Hotvedt, who is running as a House candidate for District 67, said she's fed up with some of the state's current funding situation.
"I’m a foster mom and the daughter and granddaughter of educators and the sister of an educator here in Oklahoma, and I think it’s a abysmal the way that we have failed to fund our state services," Hotvedt said. "I know that I can do better. My background is in government and the law. I’m very motivated, and I want to see the state succeed."
Among new candidates in line Wednesday, were familiar faces running for election.
"It’s still nerve-wracking every time you put your name on the ballot. It’s always a nerve-wracking experience," said Rep. Collin Walke, D-Oklahoma City.
Walke, who was elected in 2016, told News 4 the state has seen improvement in funding and pay raises, but the fight for more wasn't over.
"The teachers are here today and that’s important because they’re up here fighting for their students," Walke said. "They’re fighting for funding in the classroom and that is so important, because we’ve cut $250 million out of common ed and we’ve only restored about 20 percent of those cuts."
Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, who was also elected in 2016, said he made the decision to seek reelection with more knowledge on the legislative process.
"The process is a lot more complicated than it would look to an outsider. I mean, a lot of times you have all these great ideas. You realize somebody’s already had that idea in the past and there’s a reason why it didn’t come to fruition," said Rep. Martinez.
- 182 Republicans
- 117 Democrats
- 5 Liberations
- 149 Non-Partisan (Judicial)
Filing ends on Friday.