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ON THE RISE: Dist. 44 candidate Michael Brooks-Jimenez seeks to be strong Dem voice in the Senate

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Michael Brooks-Jimenez at his office on Oklahoma City's southside.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Raised on Oklahoma City’s southside, Michael Brooks-Jimenez – running as a Democrat in Senate District 44 - caught the political bug at an early age, as he recalled recently at his law offices on S. Western Avenue.

It was around the age of 10 that Brooks-Jimenez, now 44, helped out on Democrat Keith Leftwich’s first campaign and later worked as a page for Leftwich, who was a strong voice for Oklahoma City’s southside.

“I would see him at various events,” said Brooks-Jimenez in an office decorated with colorful, framed rock band posters featuring everyone from Bunny Wailer to Dave Alvin to X. “He was always there and knew everyone.”

In the intervening years, however, that strong leadership has been harder to find, he said, as the older generation retires or passes away. Keith Leftwich died of cancer in 2003.

Still, he feels he is the right person to continue in the proud tradition of those earlier politicians who stood up for District 44 and OKC’s southside.

This interest in politics helped him decide to run for District 44, which runs as far north as NW 16th Street and as far west as Czech Hall Road.

A graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s High School and an alumnus of Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma School of Law, Brooks-Jimenez went on to build his law firm that now has a staff of six attorneys and a support staff of 12. And in addition to his law offices in south Oklahoma City, Brooks-Jimenez also has a law office on Tulsa’s east side.

Brooks-Jimenez, who specializes in immigration law, has also been involved in many civic organizations and attended the “Leadership Oklahoma” program that is offered to young people who show leadership potential.

This political up-and-comer believes that his experience as a lawyer, where he negotiated with opposing counsels and deal with a variety of clients and judges, will be an asset in an Oklahoma State Senate where the Republicans are in the majority and his party struggles in the minority.

The candidate reports that his experience in the criminal justice system has led him to question the effectiveness of some of the state’s drug laws, and he asserts that the state should consider alternatives to incarceration in dealing with some criminal offenders.

The incumbent in District 44, controversial Tea Party darling Ralph Shortey, has “done little to distinguish himself” in the Senate, Brooks-Jimenez said, adding that when he tells folks who is opponent is, "they roll their eyes." After all, Shortey is a guy who claims he was viciously "attacked by a turkey" and killed it by "beating it with a club," caveman-style.

Um. Okay ...

“I don’t know if (Shortey) has done much with the constituents in mind,” he said, noting that he is not very visible in the community, not being part of the many community groups in this culturally-diverse district that lays claim to a large Hispanic population. He has been active with the Latino Community Development Agency and is also a member of St. James Catholic Church.

As he knocks doors – he said he was “12 days away from having knocked all of the targeted voters in the district,” over 6,000! – Brooks-Jimenez said people are most concerned about two big issues: education and infrastructure.

And when it comes to attracting business to Oklahoma, education comes into play, naturally, because you need qualified, educated workers, along with modern infrastructure.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised about all the people who have gotten behind me,” he said, noting how a weekend or two earlier, 90 volunteers showed up to put 2,600 door hangers on homes in the district – in just three hours! A lot of them were young people, which makes sense with five high schools in the district.

“We’re just trying to engage people and get them involved in the process,” added Brooks-Jimenez.

Brooks-Jimenez is humble enough to admit he doesn’t have the answer to every question or issue. He is up front about saying that if elected, once he got to the Capitol he would “see how the system works.”

For 14 years, Brooks-Jimenez has been married to his college sweetheart, Jessica. Together, they have two children – Joaquin and Lucy.

Author Ted Morgan saw fit to title the first volume of his biography of Winston Churchill Young Man In a Hurry, and one detects a similar restlessness in Brooks-Jimenez, and it is possible that he is destined to play a significant leadership role in Oklahoma beyond the boundaries of State Senate District 44.

To learn more or get involved in Michael Brooks-Jimenez’s Senate campaign, go to www.votebrooksjimenez.com or just look for someone with the bold “MBJ” lapel sticker. They will point you in the right direction.

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