In the House of Representatives District 26 race, two teachers are among the group of candidates making a run for incumbent Dell Kerb's seat.

In the House of Representatives District 26 race, two teachers are among the group of candidates making a run for incumbent Dell Kerb's seat.

Both Bruce Bushong and Lauren Richter are currently working in the Shawnee Public School system. Bushong is a high school English teacher and Richter is a fifth grade science and social studies teacher.

Both teachers were heavily inspired to run for office due to the recent teacher walkout in the state of Oklahoma.

“I was advocating at the Capitol and after talking with my legislators and talking to my peers, I told myself, 'I can do this.' When I met with Dell [Kerbs] I told him it wasn't personal and I wasn't mad at him. I was mad at the process. We just so happen to live in the same district.”

For Richter, she wants to be the voice of teachers in the state.

“I'm running for office because I believe I can be a voice for the people of this district,” Richter said. “Many of us feel like our voices are constantly falling on deaf ears. This position will allow me to promote positive change in our state.”

Bushong and Richter are on the same page when it comes to making education a priority

“The social and financial experiment that has been Oklahoma for the last ten-plus years is over,” Bushong said. “All it did was push Oklahoma to the bottom of the country. It is time for a change. By funding education when minds are still young and we can create positive attitudes, responsibilities and approaches we are only bettering society and it spreads from there.”

Richter is tired of education taking a backseat in terms of funding.

“I hope to establish a means of stable funding for our education system, as well as our mental health programs,” Richter said. “Right now, we only have the promise of funding. I want to make funding education more than just an empty promise. I want to transform that promise into a reality.”

Bushong looks to use his experience practicing law in order to challenge other representatives at the capitol even if it means stepping away from teaching.

“With my mediation experience, I feel I can get people in a room and get them to agree,” Bushong said. “When I took the teaching job it wasn't for the money it was to educate and expose kids to real life. I love what I do so this decision was hard. In order to make a difference I have to step away from something I love.”

A former Shawnee teacher of 38 years knows exactly what it's like to jump from the classroom to the Senate floor.

"Although, I had taught political elections in US Government classes, nothing learned in textbooks prepared me for the reality of actually running for political office,” said Sen. Ron Sharp. "From the moment you place your name on the filing form it results in the end of your private life which then becomes open to the public. Plus, every detail of your finances are now available to public scrutiny under the State ethics laws.”

A Shawnee native, Bushong is a former lawyer who has been teaching freshmen English at Shawnee High School since 2002. He has a background in accounting, law, finance, economics and mediation.

Richter was born and raised in Shawnee and graduated from Shawnee High School in 2007. She graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 2014 with a degree in elementary education. She is currently working at Will Rogers Elementary.

Primary elections will be held in June.