Claremore Daily Progress

August 11, 2013

Oquin out as judge, enters DA’s race

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

Judge Erin Oquin announced Friday her campaign for District Attorney after leaving her position as Rogers County Special District Judge.
“I had hoped to stay on the bench until closer to filing, but as word spread it became impossible to continue in my current position,” Oquin said. “Rumors had been circulating of my intention to run for District Attorney. A complaint was made by a potential opponent to the District Judges. As a result I am no longer a judge,  but I am a candidate for District 12 District Attorney in Rogers Mayes and Craig Counties.”
Oquin has served 10 years on the bench in District 12 in civil, criminal, juvenile and family courts.
Hearing cases involving everything from misdemeanor traffic tickets to cases in Drug Court, Oquin said, she has enjoyed serving the people of the district.
First approached to run for DA in 2009, Oquin declined.
However, when the opportunity was presented again, Oquin decided to proceed after many prayers and much consideration.
A life-long Republican, Oquin will be seeking a nomination from the Republican Party in the June 2014 Primary Election.
District Attorney Janice Steidley, who was elected in 2010 as a Democrat, changed her registration earlier this year to join the Republican Party, making her Oquin’s most likely primary opponent if she decides to seek re-election.
No other candidates have made a formal announcement at this time.
“I believe I was put on this earth to be a leader and help people and the DA’s office is a natural fit,” Oquin said.
Raised in the district, Oquin has strong roots in Rogers County. Her parents Gail and the late Max Oquin raised their family in Inola, where Oquin currently resides.
Coming from a family of educators, Oquin learned the value of education and pursued her law degree, graduating from Tulsa University in 1993, while working as an intern in the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office.
Beginning her career in private practice in 1994, Oquin said she quickly developed a heart for public service.
Judge James Goodpaster and Judge Dynda Post appointed Oquin to the judgeship in 2003, after she served two years as a public defender. Oquin has also received several honors during her career, including being named as the CASA Attorney of the Year and Business  and Professional Women State Runner-Up.
Oquin is focused on making the office of District Attorney work for the people. 
“We need to return to the basics,” Oquin said. “A DA should balance the protection of the public with the prosecution of the accused.”
In an effort to improve the office, Oquin said there are several key issues she plans to address.
The relationships with law enforcement and victims are critical, according to Oquin.
Additionally, the DA’s role in county government has a significant impact of the growth, success and quality of life in our community, according to Oquin.
 “Law enforcement does not work for the DA’s office. The office is designed to work with those agencies for the benefit of the public,” Oquin said. “If elected I will work on re-establishing good working relationships with all agencies, including Sheriff’s departments, state and local agencies, local police departments, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Cherokee Marshals.”
Victims deserve respect and compassion, as a victim of a crime I understand the process can be overwhelming, Oquin said.
“If elected I will dedicate the appropriate resources to guarantee victim’s rights are protected, insuring they are an active participant in the process,” Oquin said. 
The role of the DA is not only about prosecuting crimes, it encompasses the representation of elected officials of the county, according to Oquin.
“I will dedicate resources to provide effective representation and guidance for those offices,” Oquin said. “As a property owner, I understand the concerns of the taxpayer and the potential ramifications that exist due to the actions of our county government.”
District 12 recently lost grant funding for the Drug Task Force, which impacts local efforts in the fight against drugs, according to Oquin.
Oquin believes in order for the DA’s office to run efficiently, it is vital to use local tax dollars appropriately, but it is also important to pursue grants and other external funding resources.
“I will make sure the steps are taken to regain the funding and give law enforcement the tools needed to win this fight,” Oquin said.
The role of the District Attorney is to serve as the chief law enforcement officer in the district, which means public safety is always a top priority, according to Oquin. 
 “Habitual; offenders by their actions have chosen to waive their right to live in our communities. Anyone convicted of a crime that can be rehabilitated should be worked with appropriately,” Oquin said. “Plea agreements should be used when appropriate for the circumstance, based on the strength or weakness of a case and for no other reason.”
Oquin launched her campaign this weekend attending several public functions in her effort to build community support.