An educator is challenging the incumbent, a retired career firefighter, for the Senate District 31 seat.
Sen. Don Barrington spent three decades as a firefighter, retiring as Lawton fire chief in 2002 before setting his sights on a State Senate seat. The Lawton Republican sees a common thread in the two jobs: Looking after the welfare of others. In fact, it's why Barrington wanted the job in 2004.
"I ran for the state Senate to secure the future and ensure there are opportunities for the next generation," he said. "As a father and grandfather, I have always seen it as my job to do what I can to make the future better for those following me."
Barrington already had a background in public service before he became a senator. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969, time that included an 18-month tour of Vietnam. His firefighting career began when he left the military and became a rookie on the Lawton Fire Department in 1969. Barrington advanced through the shift ranks, from driver to lieutenant to captain, before being promoted to deputy chief. He was appointed as Lawton's fire chief in 1996, a position he held until his retirement in 2002.
As a senator, Barrington has been attuned to firefighting needs, as well as public safety issues in general, and he is in his fourth year as chairman of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. He also has been involved in legislation that touched on other aspects of constituent life, including support for veterans issues, and is an active member of the Republican Rural Caucus, where he says significant agricultural producers' issues are protected by senators whose districts mainly comprise rural communities.
"I understand the issues that are important to them and share similar values with them," Barrington said, of District 31 constituents. "Having raised a family, I understand the importance of having plenty of job opportunities, lower taxes and quality schools."
Taxes and the state budget will continue to be issues in the next legislative term, he said.