Some Oklahomans leave their state at the earliest chance. Others bemoan its perceived deficiencies but remain residents, never finding the opportunity or marshaling the willpower to move away.
Oklahoma City’s Paula Sophia does not fall into either category. After losing a Democratic primary runoff election in August for Oklahoma House District 88 by 22 votes, her outlook – on the district, on the city, on the state as a whole – is optimistic.
“Oklahoma City can be a really vibrant, new place, with vibrant, new ideas,” she says. “A hundred years ago it was that kind of place. It’s had its ups and downs, and people here are pretty resilient.”
Had she won, Sophia would have been the state’s first openly transgender elected representative. People outside of Oklahoma took notice and made tentative offers of support but could never quite square Sophia’s candidacy with prevailing assumptions about the state she wanted to represent. There were a lot of questions of viability, she says.
“There is never, ever continuous, perpetual prosperity, but the more diverse that you are, the better off that you’ll be, and