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A Black, nonbinary, Muslim state House candidate just made history in Oklahoma

Mauree Turner, a 27-year-old first-time candidate, won the House District 88 seat in Oklahoma City last night.

A Black, nonbinary, Muslim state House candidate just made history in Oklahoma
Image Source: Facebook/Mauree Turner

In a historic moment last night, Oklahoma just elected their first nonbinary and Muslim representative to the state House. Mauree Turner beat Republican Kelly Barlean for the seat in House District 88 of Oklahoma City, with the first-time political candidate winning by a projected 71% of the vote. 



Turner is the product of a grassroots movement, centering criminal justice reform, a higher minimum wage, and access to affordable health care. They were the field director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s criminal justice reform project, Campaign for Smart Justice, before announcing their candidacy for HD88 in February 2020, reports HuffPost. " It has never been a more important time for those closest to our state’s problems to be structuring the solutions,” they said then. Turner told the outlet in an interview, "Oklahomans have representation that doesn’t have our shared lived experience — that hasn’t been in a family that had to live off SNAP benefits, [or] a single-parent household because one parent was incarcerated,” adding, “That was my upbringing, and it’s not a unique one."


The 27-year old was raised by their mother working three jobs to make ends meet while their father was incarcerated for years, thus experiencing the ramifications of “a carceral system built on revenge rather than rehabilitation," in their words. Turner explained that almost every political issue is impacted by the criminal justice system, including factors such as substance abuse, housing insecurity, and inaccessibility to job and education opportunities, reported the outlet. Their political platform is illuminating, given that they have been elected in a state with one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. They are also pushing for healthcare accessibility like the safe needle exchange program as well as increasing the minimum wage, which is $7.25, the federal floor, in the state of Oklahoma. 


The newly-minted lawmaker also achieved the milestone of being the first Black and Muslim person to be elected in a district—made up of 10% Black voters and 20% Latinx—that has never had a Black or Latinx representative. Turner also told HuffPost when they were running that seeing them run for office would be "formative for young Muslim folks to see." Turner will follow in the footsteps of iconic queer representatives who have held this seat before them—Al McAffrey, the first openly gay person in the state’s legislature, and Kay Floyd, who is openly lesbian and served until 2014. Upon defeating Democratic incumbent Rep. Jason Dunnington in the June primary, the young candidate garnered immense support from key players in the Democratic party, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 



After their historic win last night, Turner took to social media to thank House District 88 for electing them, while emphasizing that they were "ready to fight" and stating, "Nothing About Us Without Us." In the run-up to the election, they noted of their candidacy, “We are no longer fighting for a seat at the table. We’re creating a whole new table where everybody eats.”


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