By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On November 6, as election results rolled in throughout the evening it was evident that women were winning across the country. In Oklahoma, two notable candidates endorsed by The City Sentinel were Heather Coyle and Natalie Mai – each successful in their campaigns to become Oklahoma County Judges in District 7 – offices 8 and 5 respectively.
Coyle, an Oklahoma County assistant district attorney for over two decades, established an early lead and was ahead by 80 percent of the vote with only 86 of 257 precincts reporting. Heather, along with her family and many supporters, anxiously kept tabs on local and national results during her watch party at VZD Restaurant on Western Avenue.
Around 8 p.m., Heather received a call from her opponent, attorney Rand Eddy, graciously conceding the race. Her husband Billy and their three children Jack, Lilly and Lilah cheered the news. Heather’s parents Fred Mendoza and Judy Dupre were thrilled as were her in laws, John and Julee Coyle.
Soon texts and phone calls came flooding in with congratulations for the Judge-elect. The final vote count was 154,490 (80.26 percent) securing the win for Coyle.
“First, I want to thank my family, friends and supporters who have given me encouragement and guidance for the last ten months,” Heather told The City Sentinel. “I am humbled to have been elected by my community and I am honored by the opportunity to serve the citizens of Oklahoma County. I look forward to following through with the pledges I have made and I am ready to make a difference.”
Natalie Mai was born in Vietnam and moved to America when she was 11. Today, she now runs her own law firm on north Classen in Oklahoma City. Her dreams continue to be fulfilled as she enters this new phase of her career.
The entire evening, Mai held a strong lead over her opponent, attorney Chris Sloan. Members of Natalie’s husband Dereck, their daughter Allie, and her mother, Hai Tran felt confident as they waited until the election was officially called in her favor. The final vote tally was Mai – 128, 429 (66.24 percent) to Sloan’s 65,450 (33.76 percent) declaring Mai as the victor.
Campaign volunteers and supporters gathered at Okie Pokie Restaurant, in the city’s Uptown 23rd District to celebrate Mai’s run for the opportunity to serve on Oklahoma’s bench. By the end of the evening, champagne corks popped and toasts were made to congratulate the new Judge-elect Mai..
“I am humbled and grateful for your confidence and votes,” Mai said. “It has been an incredible journey and I have learned a lot through its many ups and downs. Thank you to our supporters, especially to my family and friends who always believed in me. I am excited to be your next district judge and I will work hard to serve our county and state.”
The Nov. 6 voter turnout was high, with an increase in the number of women running for office in Oklahoma as well as nationally.
Sean Murphy of the Associated Press reported that in a red state upset, Democrat Kendra Horn has become the third woman to ever be elected to Congress from Oklahoma. In addition, the number of women serving in the Oklahoma legislature will increase from 21 to 32 in 2019.
According to the state election board, more than 1.185 million Oklahomans cast votes for governor, the highest total for a midterm election since at least 1986. A 56.09 percent voter turnout.
Oklahomans cast more than 173,000 early votes, far more than 2014 early voting, Oklahoma Watch reported. Absentee mail voters made up 66,100.In addition, 107,100 people voted early in person this year. In 2014, early and mail voting totaled about 70,000.
Election board statistics show there are 2,120,843 people registered to vote in Oklahoma, up nearly 105,000 new registrations since January.
November 6 was a big win for Coyle and Mai and a big night for Oklahoma voters.