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Local News

November 2, 2013

Former chair of Democratic Party seeks state’s top education post

Ada — When Ivan Holmes talks to voters, he uses a hula hoop to emphasize one of the key themes of his campaign.

Holmes is one of five Democrats hoping to unseat Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction, Janet Barresi, in 2014. The hula hoop illustrates his complaint that Barresi leaves school officials out of the loop on education issues.

“There are no lines of communication between the schools, the superintendents and principals, and the superintendent’s office,” Holmes said in a phone interview Thursday. “They’re just not there.”

Holmes will compete against fellow Democrats Donna Anderson, John Cox, Freda Deskin and Jack Herron in the June 24, 2014, primary election. The victor will face the winner of the Republican primary, which may pit Barresi against Tulsa resident Joy Hofmeister.

Hofmeister is a former member of the state Board of Education who resigned to explore the possibility of challenging Barresi in 2014. She has not formally announced her candidacy, but she has raised money for a campaign.

‘Education at every level’

Holmes’ career began at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College in Miami, where he handled public relations and taught English, speech and journalism. While he was working in Miami, he earned a master’s degree in journalism and education from Oklahoma State University.

He later moved to Tulsa, where he earned a doctorate in education from the University of Tulsa and taught history at a local high school. After earning his advanced degree, he went to work at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, where he established a journalism program and handled publicity.

Holmes’ resume also included a stint as the athletic marketing director at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he taught public relations.

“I’ve been in education off and on for about 45 years at kind of every level in teaching and administration,” he said.

Holmes also served as chairman for the Oklahoma Democratic Party for two years.

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