“So help me, God.”
As Michael Brooks-Jimenez said those final words of his oath of office for the Oklahoma Senate, supporters jumped to their feet as they clapped, whistled and cheered.
It lasted 37 seconds, a sustained time for applause.
Then when he was introduced as “Senator Michael Brooks,” the cheering and clapping started up again, this time lasting 35 seconds.
Cheering is not a usual thing for the stately Capitol Senate chamber in Oklahoma City.
But this was different. He’s their hometown boy of the new south side – the south side of a strong, young, Hispanic working class.
Eager supporters arrived in their best clothes filling the main floor and most of the gallery to see Brooks-Jimenez being sworn-in.
There were a number of older people present other than his relatives who remember him as a child at Little Flower Catholic Church.
Just a few minutes before he took the oath, the crowd had been totally silent and still as Brook-Jimenez spoke earnestly to those who worked so hard on this special election.
He praised his extended family and had them stand. It was a significant number.
But, they were far outnumbered by those who were not family, and that’s what he pointed to next.
“I was born and raised here on the south side of Oklahoma City. I’ve been here my whole life. And so, all of these other people who’ve made it possible to be here this morning are really it,” he said.
Ready to work
Once the meeting was adjourned Brooks-Jimenez talked briefly with Free Press.
“I’m excited and ready to get to work more than anything,” he said. “This is overwhelming – the support and number of people who came. I’ve been blessed with a lot of support this whole time.”
Free Press covered the start of his campaign as he started knocking doors, watched some of his supporters vote on the earliest voting day, and was present at his watch party on election night to witness the excitement of the win.
Throughout the campaign he has had the support anyone needs to win a seat during a special election when voter interest is so low.
One of those supporters is Gloria Torres, Vice-Chair for Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education.
Torres is also a native of the south side, but says she never really knew Brooks-Jimenez as they were growing up.
That didn’t make her any less proud, though.
“It feels like having family here in the Senate, which is really nice.”
Another south-sider, Phil Horning, said, “Very gratifying day. Hope we have many more.”
Arturo Delgado, field rep and vice president of LiUNA – Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 107 was heavily involved, along with his whole family, in campaigning for Brooks-Jimenez.
He said that he has seen south side voters get increasingly more energized starting with the first Brooks-Jimenez campaign against Ralph Shortey, then the election of Rep. Mickey Dollens to HD 92 and Forrest Bennett to HD 92 in 2016.
“It’s kind of been a snowball effect from what I can tell,” Delgado said. “People are seeing that they can make a difference. The message is getting out there.”
“As long as we get good people with family values, not just talk family values, but actually have family values, that’s the key,” said Degado.
“There’s always a new dynamic when you add a new family member,” said Republican Senator Stephanie Bice, SD 22.
“It’ll take some time to get to know each other and to get some perspective on what he is passionate about. Certainly he’s going to be a great addition to the Senate.”
We asked Democratic Senator Anastasia Pittman, SD 48, if she thought the dynamic would change.
“Oh, yes. I think the dynamic will change a little bit,” Pittman said. “There will be a little more excitement on the Democratic side. It adds a perspective that we didn’t have before.”