Rep. West not seeking re-election

Rep. Rick West speaks at a March town hall meeting.
Ken Milam
News Editor

State Rep. Rick West announced Thursday he will not be seeking re-election for the next legislative session, casting the District 3 election in a new light.

The first-term Republican from Heavener said he was disappointed with direction the Republican caucus is taking and with several decisions that had been made at the Capitol.

“Serving the great people of House District 3 has been an incredible honor and is something I will cherish forever,” West said in a prepared statement. “I have given this job every single ounce of energy within me, I have learned much more than I could’ve imagined. The people of southeastern Oklahoma entrusted me with a huge responsibility, and I am forever grateful for their confidence in me. 

“Ultimately, I could not in good conscience continue to serve as a state representative. I fundamentally disagree with the direction the Republican caucus is headed inside the Capitol, and I have been disappointed in decisions that were made that I believe are detrimental to our state,” West said.

West was first elected in 2016. He serves as vice chair for the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. He also sits on the County and Municipal Government and Veterans and Military Affairs committees, along with the Appropriations and Budget Sub-committee for Select Agencies.

“I will continue to serve my community on a local level, but I also look forward to spending more time with my wife and family. They have made tremendous sacrifices over the past few years, and I owe them more than what I’ve been able to provide as a state representative.

“The decision to make this session my last in the House of Representatives did not come easily. I have spent the last several weeks discussing options with those closest to me, and I feel great peace about making these my final months in office. It’s time for me to go home.”

As of Thursday, two candidates had filed for the seat — Republican Lundy Kiger and Democrat Tom Brennan, both of Poteau.

Brennan is a high school teacher and Kiger is an executive with AES and a former educator.

Kiger issued the following statement in response to West's announcement.

"I want to thank Rick West for his service to the people of District 3 and the state of Oklahoma. Serving in the legislator is a tremendous sacrifice to everyones family who serves. I wish Mr. West the very best."

When Kiger first announced his candidacy, he encouraged Democrats to switch their party registration in order to back him in the Republican primary.

Brennan also issued a statement: "While we had many different views on policy regarding revenue plans and funding for various state agencies, Suzanne and I always have had the utmost respect for Rep. West.

"He is a dedicated public servant who devoted two years of his life to represent the people of LeFlore County in our great state’s Capitol. Rick would not only respond to constituent concerns via phone in a timely manner but also make himself readily available to speak with myself and other constituents in person even if there was a difference of opinion.

"Rick is a person of great conviction and integrity, and he has always been candid and honest about where he stands. Suzanne and I wish the best for Rep. West and applaud him for his public service. We are happy that he can have more time to be with Jan and his family in the future."

There are nearly twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans in LeFlore County — 14,213 to 7,908.

West was the first Republican to win the District 3 seat.

In addition to electing West, the county went heavily for Donald Trump in the 2016 general election. District 3 cover northern LeFlore County, including the communities of Arkoma, Cameron, Fanshawe, Fort Coffee, Heavener, Howe, Pocola, Poteau, Rock Island, Spiro and Wister.