Bryan County Democratic Party holds meeting

By Randy Bruce

January 11, 2014

The Bryan County Democratic Party (BCDP) elected Matt Sandmann its new vice-chair at the regular meeting of the local party last week.

A local businessman and former aide to Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren, Sandmann is a native of Atoka and a graduate of Oklahoma State University. He and wife Dawna live in Silo.

Sandmann replaces Marilyn Alexander, a former Montana public-school teacher and now the owner, with husband Gil, of Two Bears Ranch near Achille. Alexander recently moved up to party chair following the resignation of David Northcutt.

The new vice-chair agreed to spearhead the arranging of community speakings before the 2014 primary and general elections, where voters will have opportunities to hear and question Democratic candidates running for various county and state posts.

County Commissioner posts in Districts 1 and 3 will be on the ballot this year. Jay Perry is expected to seek reelection in District 3, but Monty Montgomery (District 1) will not.

Of local interest in state-wide elections is the expected candidacy of Donna Anderson, superintendent at Bennington Public Schools, for the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, now occupied by Republican Janet Barresi. Anderson is one of five Democrats expected to announce for the office during the candidate filing period of April 9-11, including Ivan Holmes, former head of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

Other elections this year include those for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Jim Inhofe (R); the U.S. House of Representatives seat occupied by Markwayne Mullin (R); the Oklahoma House seat occupied by Dustin Roberts (R); the Oklahoma Governor office occupied by Mary Fallin (R); and the Lieutenant Governor post occupied by Todd Lamb (R).

It appears likely that incumbents in those five offices will run for additional terms and that each will have at least one challenger.

Primary elections for both the Democratic and Republican parties will be held June 24. If runoffs are needed for any races, they will be August 26. The general election is November 4.

Also at the monthly BCDP meeting, Alexander announced that the party will support Young Democrats groups recently organized at Durant High School and Southeastern Oklahoma State University and that it welcomes participation by members of the two groups at party meetings and other activities.

She appointed vice-chair Sandmann to serve as liaison to both YD groups.

Ian Duffey, chair of the high-school YD, reported that the group currently has a membership of 10. Maddison Williams, chair of the Southeastern Student Democrats, was unable to attend the county meeting but had earlier reported considerable interest among college students in joining the group.

A report about activities of the newly formed Bryan County Coalition Against Hunger (BCCAH) was presented by Joe Littlejohn and Sandra Levins. Although BCCAH is non-partisan and welcomes members from every political party or none, the Coalition’s goal of ending hunger in Bryan County is one in line with Democrats’ historical emphasis on helping people in need.

The Coalition was formed following an informational meeting last fall about the topic of hunger in Bryan County. Representatives of the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank and of local food pantries spoke, detailing efforts currently under way to provide food for those in need in the county and suggesting ways that such efforts might be augmented.

Littlejohn reported that he and Marion Hill are working on a series of articles for the Durant Democrat highlighting the work of nutrition sites, food pantries, and others feeding people in this county and the roles that local businesses, churches, clubs and organizations play in assisting these food sources.

He emphasized that although hunger persists everywhere, Bryan County is more fortunate than many locales in that the community is already actively working to alleviate the problem.

Chair Alexander announced that she will be e-mailing a list of registered Democrats in the county, so that precinct officers can begin identifying volunteers in their precincts to help in get-out-the-vote efforts.

BCDP meetings are held the first Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at Ceviche restaurant in Durant. All Democrats and Independents are welcome to attend.

For more information, Marilyn Alexander can be reached at 580-283-3312 or galex@cherokeetel.com.