By Sean Murphy
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday elected 40-year-old state Rep. Jeff Hickman of Fairview as the next speaker of the House, one of the most powerful positions in state government.
The House voted 69-29 along party lines Monday to select Hickman over Democratic Leader Scott Inman of Del City.
Hickman was sworn in with his wife, Jana, and young son at his side.
“I stand before you incredibly humbled, maybe a bit overwhelmed at the task ahead, but I want to say thank you,” Hickman said.
Well-liked and approachable, Hickman has a reputation as a consensus-builder and frequently presides over the 101-member House.
Hickman said he wants to keep taxes low and state regulations to a minimum. He cited funding for education and infrastructure, prison overcrowding and the unfunded liability of the state’s pension systems as some of the more pressing problems facing the state.
“We know we have budget challenges ahead, but I hope you also see the possibilities we have before us,” Hickman said. “We face a year that will require creative solutions. We need all 101 members of the House on deck.”
The Republican caucus met behind closed doors earlier in the day and cast secret ballots to select Hickman over Rep. Mike Jackson of Enid.
The results of that election were not released.
Hickman said he considers Jackson a friend and that he expects a smooth transition to the speaker’s post.
Jackson said after the vote that there were no hard feelings, and that he believed House Republicans would come together behind Hickman.
University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren said he was very pleased by the election of Jeff Hickman as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“Speaker Hickman did an outstanding job as my press secretary and special assistant after he graduated from OU,” Boren said.
Hickman also served for a period as special assistant to Steve Owens when he served as athletics director.
“Jeff Hickman sets high standards and truly seeks to serve others. I have every confidence that he will make an outstanding speaker,” Boren said.
The speaker’s position was vacated last week when Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, stepped down to focus on his U.S. Senate race.
The position is significant because the speaker joins the governor and the Senate president pro tem at the negotiating table for the $7 billion state budget and helps shape the political agenda for the state.
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