OKLAHOMA CITY —
T.W. Shannon was formally elected Tuesday as Oklahoma’s first black speaker of the House, vowing to reach across the party aisle and focus on making the state more prosperous and business friendly.
The Lawton Republican, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, was elected on a 69-28 vote along party lines over Del City Democratic Rep. Scott Inman, who will again serve as minority leader in the 101-member Oklahoma House. Shannon already had been elected by his Republican colleagues as the speaker-elect, and Tuesday’s vote was more of a formality. The legislative session begins Feb. 4.
Shannon, 34, said his top priorities for the upcoming session will be to focus on overhauling the state’s worker’s compensation system, reducing the tax burden, and shoring up the state’s pension system. These goals, he said, will help to improve the state’s economic climate and lead to growth in business and industry.
“The best social program in the world is a high-paying job,” Shannon said.
Shannon was sworn into office by Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Charles Johnson, a former Comanche County district judge who Shannon said encouraged him to attend law school.
After his election, Shannon received a standing ovation and hugged his wife and two children, who were on the floor for Tuesday’s votes. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, for whom Shannon worked as a field representative before being elected to the House in 2006, sat in the gallery.
Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, was elected House speaker pro tem in a party-line vote over Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs.
In the Senate, Sapulpa Republican Sen. Brian Bingman was voted into a second term as Senate president pro tem, while Claremore Democratic Sen. Sean Burrage will again serve as Senate minority leader.