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Tulsa legislative candidate retains spot on ballot after challenge to eligibility

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Just whose names will be on voters’ ballots this election season will come down to the Oklahoma State Election Board’s decisions on challenges to candidates’ eligibility.

A Republican candidate for House District 79 in southeastern Tulsa remains on the June 28 primary ballot after the Oklahoma State Election Board, on a split vote, turned down a challenge to his eligibility.

That contest of candidacy was one of 12 scheduled to be heard by the board Monday.

Former Tulsa City Councilor Karen Gilbert, also an HD 79 Republican candidate, said in her contest of candidacy that Stan Stevens should be stricken because he pleaded guilty to three felony drug charges in 2008. State law bans felons from holding office for 15 years.

According to Gilbert and her attorney, Terry Simonson, Stevens apparently had those charges expunged in recent months so that no official record of them exists. Stevens did not directly confirm the expungement or admit to the 2008 guilty pleas, but news accounts from the time confirm the latter.

The board’s decision, then, came down to whether expungement — or the lack of an official record — negated the 15-year ban. By a 2-1 vote, the board decided it did.

The decision leaves Gilbert, Stevens and Paul Hassink in the June 28 Republican primary with a possible Aug. 23 runoff. The ultimate winner will face Democratic incumbent Melissa Provenzano in the Nov. 8 general election.

Also Monday, the board retained Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Edwards on the ballot over the objection of challenger Matt Price and told labor commissioner candidate Sean Roberts he had to remove “The Patriot” from the middle of the name he listed for himself when he filed for office.

Edwards did not become Muskogee County district attorney until last fall, when he was appointed to complete an unexpired term. Price contended that Edwards did not move his voter registration from Tulsa County in time to meet the six-month requirement to run for the office.

Roberts produced as a witness U.S. Senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer, who testified that several people have told him Roberts is a patriot, but that was not enough to persuade the Election Board to allow the candidate to have the words within his name on the ballot.

Challenges to other candidates’ eligibility were still being considered late Monday.

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