Governing counties 

Political newcomers Carrie Blumert and Brad Reeves will face off for Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner in Nov. 6’s general election.

The trailblazer

click to enlarge Carrie Blumert is the Democratic candidate for Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner. - ALEXA ACE
  • Alexa Ace
  • Carrie Blumert is the Democratic candidate for Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner.
Carrie Blumert epitomizes her life motto. “Work hard and be kind” is a simple saying she uses to help her keep fighting the good fight.

With a smile on her face and pep in her step, the 31-year-old Oklahoma City-County Health Department program director has knocked on over 10 thousand doors during her campaign for Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner. While Blumert has spent the majority of her life in Oklahoma and has lived in Oklahoma City for nearly a decade, campaigning has allowed her to get to know her neighbors like never before.

“My experience has been overwhelming positive,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of the men I’ve met have been incredibly kind and respectful, but I think a few are thrown off that a young woman is attempting to claim a powerful position.”

In a positive way, Blumert said, Oklahoma has joined the nation in a cultural shift away from sexism. She’s proud to be part of the movement.

If elected as county commissioner, Blumert will replace Willa Johnson, who is the only female elected official in Oklahoma County government.  Johnson announced her retirement last year and her endorsement of Blumert this month.

As proud as Blumert is to be an Oklahoman, she said there is always room for the state to improve.

Blumert was raised in Ponca City by her father, Keith, an engineer, and her mother, Janice, a retired teacher. Her older sister, Bonnie, is a trial lawyer and an Oklahoma County public defender.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in social work from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in public health from University of Oklahoma, Blumert moved to Oklahoma City to work for the county health department. Looking back, she said her whole life seems to have been orchestrated to lead her to the path she is on now.

“I was never someone who thought about running for office,” Blumert said. “But I’ve always wanted to make a difference in some way and I’ve always been very passionate about local government. It’s at the local level where I believe the most difference can be made and felt.”

Though Blumert is a Democrat, she said her parents are Republicans and her family has never been big on political talk.

“I’m not concerned with advancing my party as much as I am about advancing issues,” she said.

She said issues that impact District 1 residents include crime, mental illness and an ineffective Oklahoma County Jail that is overcrowded, understaffed and was improperly designed.

“It’s a 13-floor high rise,” Blumert said. “If it looks a little odd, that’s because it is. The layout of a typical jail resembles nothing like the one we have. In fact, the architect who designed it had never designed a jail before.”

With the requirement that at least one guardsman move with prisoners as they travel throughout the jail, multiple floors and few elevators create the need for additional staff.

Blumert said her research into the jail has led her to believe that organizers who helped launch it in 1991 didn’t comply with code inspections and cut costs at the expense of producing a quality jail that could withstand the test of time.

While the jail has a capacity limit of 1,200, it currently houses about 1,800 prisoners. The overcrowding has led to increased mental illness and violence within the jail, Blumert said. The understaffing has resulted in a 48-hour lockdown period during the weekends when a lack of guardsmen means prisoners cannot leave their cells.

If residents vote in favor of a temporary tax rise to pay for a new jail, Blumert said she would work religiously to ensure that one is properly created, staffed and managed. The current one, she said, would be torn down and the land sold.

With her background and knowledge on community and mental health, Blumert said she will work toward crime deterrence to help create safer communities and bring prisoner numbers down in the county jail.

The family man

click to enlarge Brad Reeves is the Republican candidate for Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner. - PROVIDED
  • provided
  • Brad Reeves is the Republican candidate for Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner.
Though Brad Reeves was not born and raised in Oklahoma, the connection he feels to Oklahomans is real. Working his way from grocery store sacker to manager took the kind of hard work Reeves said Oklahomans are wired to endure after state ancestors worked their way out of the Dust Bowl and a Great Depression.

“I’m a hardworking family man,” Reeves said. “That’s kind of a simple description, but it’s the best one I have.”

Reeves was born in Kansas and moved with his family during his childhood to Oklahoma, Colorado and California following his fathers’ career in oil and gas. When he was 18 years old, his family moved back to Oklahoma, where he later met his wife, Stephanie.

While still a teenager, Reeves began sacking groceries at an Albertsons in north Oklahoma City. Through hard work, he advanced to store manager and later to a multi-store manager. After more than a decade with Albertsons, Reeves moved on to a career in oil and gas and then became a deputy at the Oklahoma County Court Clerk’s office, a position he still holds today.

Stephanie owns a small craft painting business.

The couple has six children and lives in Oklahoma City, where the family enjoys the company of extended relatives including aunts, uncles and grandparents. The constant presence of family in his life reminds Reeves of what’s most important.

Reeves said his time spent working at the county court clerk’s office combined with his business management skills make him an ideal candidate for Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner. Though his predecessor would be a Democrat, the Republican candidate said he believes Johnson’s work has been impressive and that he’d like to build upon it.

“I think she’s done a terrific job,” Reeves said. “I’m learning as much as I can now so that if I’m elected, I can hit the ground running and build upon the work she’s already done.”

Reeves said he agrees with Blumert that work needs to be done to the Oklahoma County Jail but that he is not in favor of tearing it down and creating a new one altogether.

“We need to work with what we have,” he said. “We need to continue putting a plan together and being transparent about that plan. We need to find a way to lower the prison population so we don’t have this overcrowding issue. But I don’t believe that creating a new jail is the answer.”

He said that should he be elected, he would first request an objective assessment of the jail.

“I’m not an expert on jails and what it takes to house inmates,” he said. “But once the inmate population decreases, I’d like to bring in a third party to review the jail and make recommendations on how we can improve the jail moving forward.”

Reeves said part of what attracted him to the county commissioner seat is the role commissioners have on the Oklahoma County Budget Board, which creates a budget each year to satisfy county needs.

“I look at our state and our cities as businesses,” Reeves said. “I look forward to working with the sheriff and other elected officials to divvy out our budget and invest in what voters believe are the district’s biggest priorities.”

Reeves said he would also work to remove the dormant asbestos in the Oklahoma County Courthouse.

According to the county commissioner’s website, the responsibilities of county commissioner include overseeing county roads, jails, health and welfare programs.

District 1 includes parts of Del City, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Spencer, Jones and Luther. 

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