An interview with Mickey Dollens, a Democratic “young gun” – and state party names Native American Liaison

OKLAHOMA CITY – Mickey Dollens, the newly elected state representative for House District 93 in south Oklahoma City, is one of a cadre of young Democratic legislators elected in Oklahoma City in 2016, joining another group that won races in 2014. While Republicans increased their strength at the state Capitol, Dollens won a seat that had previously been occupied by a Republican, controversial former state Rep. Mike Christian.
Late this month, Dollens and other new legislators have been settling into new offices at 23rd and Lincoln. He shared his views with CapitolBeatOK, including his motivations in deciding to seek elective office. “I had no political experience before running for office in 2016. I’m 29-years-old and my family never talked about politics or public policy while I was growing up,” he recalled.
“I never had aspirations of running for office or representing the state at an official level, at least not until my younger brother Joe died in 2011. Joe suffered from bipolar disorder, and his suicide made me realize how much Oklahoma was failing its people with healthcare resources. I thought about running for office but ended up moving to the northeast to join the USA Bobsled Team. 
“After two years, I moved back and started work on an oil rig before teaching high school in Oklahoma City. I was one of 208 Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers laid off in spring 2016 after budget shortfalls forced the district to cut costs. It was then that I decided I had to run for office.”

One of his first priorities in the Legislature, he said, touches on health care. “As a teacher and former athlete, I believe in the value of team sports in the lives of students. However, there is a silent risk to our children. Exercise-induced cardiomegaly, or, simply put, an enlarged heart, is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.
“My first bill that I want to pass requires screening for this condition. While students are required to have a physical prior to participation in athletics, they are not required to have a screening for this condition. I believe the lives of our students are worth protecting, and this bill would do just that.”
Another priority is to advance “Southside infrastructure. I will work to improve roads, intersections, and sidewalks. Investing in our community will help boost small businesses and our local economy.
Dollens won the House District 93 race comfortably, garnering 5,013 voted (59.84 percent of the total) to 3,365 for Jay Means 3,365, a close ally of Christian.
In other news, the state Democratic Party announced December 20 the appointment of LaRenda Morgan as the Native American Liaison. Her job, party officials said in a press release, is to “communicate and coordinate outreach efforts with Oklahoma Tribes.”
A resident of Oklahoma City, Ms. Morgan is a member of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. A graduate of OU, she serves as cultural affairs chair for the American Indian Student association during her time in Norman. She ran for the House District 93 post in the 2016 primary, and has worked with the Indian Health Service, and was executive director for the Two Tribes.
In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations, Morgan expressed happiness “to be representing all Tribes in Oklahoma. … I look forward to building stronger relationships between the Native American community and the party. I hope to encourage tribal members to become more active in the party as well as their tribal government, as both are equally important for our future and the future of our children. Every voice and every vote counts! Thank you, Ha’hou!”