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Nonprofit Leadership Tulsa Offering Class Aimed At Curbing Unopposed Elections

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Matt Trotter
/
KWGS

Oklahoma has one of the nation's highest rates of candidates for elected office running unopposed, but a Tulsa nonprofit is trying to change that.

Leadership Tulsa Director of Programs and Community Impact Marcia Bruno-Todd said their new LT Represent class is a nonpartisan program intended to help people better understand what steps they need to take in order to run for and serve in elected or appointed office.

"We want to increase the amount of folks that are capable and prepared to serve [in] elected leadership positions that represent the diverse perspectives that is our Tulsa, and we also want to ensure that there is a debate of a variety of perspectives that lead to better policy outcomes," Bruno-Todd said.

The curriculum was developed with an advisory board that includes Democrats and Republicans involved in local, state and tribal governments. It includes teaching people more about how government works at different levels and where different policies are made.

"You know, folks maybe that they want to change and they want to address education policy and how schools are funded. Running for school board would not be the position that would affect the funding formula for how schools are funded. That would definitely be at the state legislator level," Bruno-Todd said.

Leadership Tulsa is taking applications for the program through June 18. More information is available at leadershiptulsa.org. The inaugural LT Represent class will be free, thanks to support from Leadership Tulsa partners.

According to a Ballotpedia analysis, there was no major party competition for 62% of Oklahoma's 125 state legislative seats due for a vote in 2020, with seven Democrats and 70 Republicans running unopposed. And while school board races are more competitive than they've been in eight years, nearly half of candidates this year have run unopposed.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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