By James Beaty
Larry Boggs says it’s not about the political party to which a candidate belongs.
It’s about what you do for the people.
Boggs, of Red Oak, is set to be sworn in at noon today, one of 24 newly elected senators who will be sworn in during a ceremony in the senate chambers at the state Capitol, said Matt Glanville with the Senate Communications Division.
While Boggs may downplay party affiliation, he’s believed to be the first Republican to be elected to the state Senate seat which includes McAlester and Pittsburg counties.
“That’s what everybody’s saying,” said Boggs, who won election as the new District 7 state senator last week.
Boggs though, said he ran for simple reason.
“I thought we need a voice in Oklahoma City,” he said.
During the campaign, Boggs maintained that since the leadership of the both the state House and Senate are now Republican, a Republican senator would have a stronger voice at the Capitol.
He also said that he could reach across the aisle and work with lawmaker of either party — especially when looking out for the interests of rural Oklahoma.
“The historical part may be important to some people,” Boggs said.
He said what’s important to him is “getting some jobs down here and getting a voice in the education department.”
While government leaders in urban areas may have some fine ideas, they don’t always work for rural schools, said Boggs.
He also said ethics and moral values are important in education and said he will continue to fight for the rights of those in southeastern Oklahoma to control their own water.
“I’ve always been involved in the Sardis Lake fight,” said Boggs, tracing his interest in the area’s water back to when he wrote papers on the subject in high school.
The senate seat won by Boggs had been held by the late state Sen. Gene Stipe, a McAlester Democrat, from 1956 until Stipe resigned in 2003 following a federal election probe into a District 3 Congressional race. Stipe had previously held a state House seat.
Following Stipe’s resignation, Richard Lerblance, a Democratic House member from Hartshorne, won the election for the District 7 seat in 2002. Lerblance didn’t seek re-election this year, citing state term limits, which meant he would have had to step down midway through a four-year term.
Boggs won with nearly 54 percent of the vote district-wide last week, getting 14,160 votes, compared to 12,140 for Democratic candidate J. Paul Lane, of McAlester.
Boggs said he’s already received a couple of instructions for his swearing-in ceremony at the state Capitol today — one of which he said he will follow and another which he won’t.
“They told me to wear a suit and leave my cowboy hat at home,” Boggs said.
The newly-elected state senator said he’ll wear the suit, but he’s taking a stand on the other matter.
“I’m bringing my hat,” he said.
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