Coodys make first mother-son duo to serve in state House
Ann Coody said she's accustomed to glancing across her dinner table and seeing her son Jeff, but she still feels a pang when she looks across a table at the state Capitol and sees her son sitting there as a colleague.
The Coodys made state history last year when they became members of an exclusive club: relatives serving in the Legislature at the same time. Ann Coody, the Lawton-area senior House member, is beginning her sixth term as representative for House District 64, while Jeff Coody has begun his freshman year as the representative for House District 63 after winning the seat last fall of term-limited Don Armes.
While the Coodys share a number of characteristics both are conservative Republicans with even temperaments who believe in God, strong families, limited government intervention and traditional values there are just enough differences to ensure they won't always vote the same way on every issue. In other words: Don't assume you know where both stand just because you know one's opinion.
They've already disagreed on issues, said Jeff, shrugging off suggestions that politics might divide the family and explaining that the family has discussed and disagreed on things before. Ann is surprised by the notion that anyone might think political disagreements would come between the two: She's disagreed with colleagues before and remained friends, she said, explaining this particular colleague is related by blood.
Both are excited about the prospects of a new legislative year as Ann settles in with her usual enthusiasm (she's always loved the beginning of session) to what will be her final two years as an Oklahoma legislator, while Jeff is learning the ropes of his new job and relying on the counsel of veterans, including one in whom he has absolute trust. Both are aware of their place in legislative history, but also know that history is just part of the story and not the definition of their time representing Southwest Oklahoma.
Family links in Oklahoma politics are not unknown, but the Coodys have a special spot on the list. There are other examples of family links: Rob Johnson followed his father Mike in the state Senate, while Mike Reynolds was a state House member while his brother Jim served in the state Senate. Of course, U.S. Congressman Tom Cole is the son of the late Helen Cole, a one-time state House and Senate member. And several spouses have followed each other into office.
On same side at same time
But Ann said she believes she and her son are unique because they are in the same side of the Capitol at the same time.
Jeff didn't consciously plan to follow his mother, but he said the opportunity presented by Armes' vacant seat was too good to ignore.
"It's more coincidental," he said. "We represent two separate districts."
But he admits his mother did have an influence, probably in the same way his father did. As a member of a close-knit family, Jeff was involved in all of his mother's campaigns.
"Because of her, I was aware of political realities," he said, explaining realities gained on the campaign trail played a role in his decision to run. "You observe and you learn."