OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Two candidates for Oklahoma County sheriff are making history. Whoever wins will be the first black sheriff in Oklahoma County and the second black sheriff in the state.
“My vision is one, to obviously get a big push into the community,” Tommie Johnson III told News 4.
Johnson spoke to News 4 Wednesday after beating current Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor in Tuesday’s GOP runoff, with just over 60% of the votes.
“We want to get safer communities for both the urban setting and the rural setting,” Johnson said. “We’re in 2020 and we need to explore new avenues on how to better police our communities.”
Johnson has worked in law enforcement for eight years and is currently serving on the Norman Police Department.
He believes there’s been mismanagement of the OCSO in recent years and is committed to a new approach.
“We want fiscal responsibility and fiscal transparency. That’s huge,” he said. “I want to make sure we are effectively using the dollars from the citizens.”
Johnson’s opponent, Wayland Cubit, is also a long-time police office with 24 years on the job and 21 of those years serving on the Oklahoma City Police Department.
“I’m excited about the race,” Cubit said on Wednesday. “What I see for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is a total revamp in transparency and creating a trust with the community.”
Criminal justice reform and mental health are also important to Cubit.
“It’s going to take a blending of our two professions to be able to serve our community in the proper way,” Cubit said.
Whoever wins, will be stepping in to an office that’s a bit different now, since the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, or the jail trust, took over operations of the jail on July 1st.
“The jail trust taking over allows me to be a cop. Allows me to do what I enjoy doing,” Cubit said. “When you take away the responsibility for the jail and you say hey go be a cop, I think we will truly be successful in all facets in all areas we want to attack.”
“The primary focus will no longer be the jail but because those are still citizens in the jail and because the sheriff still sits as a member of the jail trust, that’s still a very, very important part of what I’ll be having my administration look into,” Cubit said.
Both candidates are making history with this race. Oklahoma County has never had a black sheriff.
The winner will also be only the second black sheriff in the state, following JC Burris who was the sheriff of Logan County from 1980-1992.
“I’m super excited about the fact that this is going to be a historical marker for our community,” Cubit said.
“I mean that truly shows that we are making strides in our country and that is beautiful and I love that we are representing that here in Oklahoma County,” Johnson said.