After the Census

Shannon, Bell to Help with Redistricting

T.W. Shannon, the onetime speaker of the Republican-controlled State House of Representatives, has been hired to help with redistricting, and Keith Bell has been hired by the State Senate to serve as redistricting director.

Mr. Bell previously was chief of staff for former Lieut. Gov. Ted Lamb.

Speaker Charles McCall (Rep., Atoka) announced the hiring of Mr. Shannon.

The redistricting process will begin after the Census.

“T.W. Shannon is an incredibly effective communicator whose diversity and deep understanding of all of Oklahoma will strongly benefit the State House’s public-focused redistricting process,” State Rep. McCall said.

Mr. Shannon will be paid $6,250 per month on a month-to-month contract, said a spokesman for Speaker McCall. 

He will report to the Oklahoma House Redistricting Committee and eight regional subcommittees on which all 101 State House members will serve.

Mr. Bell, who previously was chief of staff for former Lieut. Gov. Ted Lamb, will be paid $105,000.

The State House has established a redistricting process that will allow all Oklahomans to be heard while producing proper leadership for the state, Mr. Shannon said.

“State House seats belong to the public and it is an honor to help the public bring their vision for their representation to the table in the critical constitutional process of redistricting,” he said.

Mr. Shannon, who is Black and is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, was the first Black speaker in Oklahoma history. 

He resigned in 2014 to mount an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by State U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (Rep., Okla.).

The former senator died earlier this year.

Mr. Shannon  currently serves on the Oklahoma  Transportation Commission,  and is the president and chief executive officer of the Chickasaw Community Bank.

While leadership in the Oklahoma House and Senate move forward on redistricting efforts, a political campaign is trying to take redistricting power away from the Legislature through a State Question in 2022.

People, Not Politicians aims to qualify a question for the ballot that asks Oklahomans to support the creation of an independent redistricting commission made up of non-elected officials of various political persuasions.

Republican Legislature leaders are  laying the groundwork for redistricting work that will heat up when final Census data is delivered to states in the spring. 

The Legislature is responsible for redrawing Oklahoma’s legislative and congressional districts every decade.

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