Northeast Oklahoma residents will have a chance to hear from three candidates, vying for the governor's office this week, Libertarian party kicks off its 'Liberty Tour' in Grove.

The event, set for 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 26, at the Grove Community Center, features Chris Powell, Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado and Rex Lawhorn.

The three men will have an opportunity to discuss their respective campaigns and platforms during the forum. Following their speeches, each candidate will field questions from those in attendance. 

The event, the first of its kind in northeast Oklahoma, is designed to introduce residents outside of the Tulsa metro area, to the Libertarian party and its offerings.

J. Lee Miller Jr., chairman of the Northeastern Oklahoma Libertarian Party, hopes residents will come out for the forum, to learn more about their offerings.

He said with Gary Johnson's win of 5.6 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential election, the party is now recognized as an official party in the state of Oklahoma.

"We are the fastest growing party in the country," Miller said. "We have three candidates who are passionate about politics, and this state. We want to get out there and show how they can change things."

Miller credits the party's growth in a dissatisfaction among voters with the traditional Republican or Democratic candidates.

"A lot of people are tired, and [with the forum] they get to see something different," Miller said. 

He hopes those who come to the forum will leave, with a "more balanced, and authentic" view of the Libertarian party.

"There are a lot of negative stereotypes," Miller said. "We are not all crazy. We hope they see a candidate there, they can talk to in person, see that the candidate has good ideas and be someone they can back and help get elected."

Miller said the state will become more successful, only if people get involved within the political process.

"The more voices we have, the better off we will be," Miller said. 

Meet the candidates

Chris Powell

Chris Powell is a former chairman of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party. A resident of Bethany, Oklahoma, Powell is a Gulf War veteran.

Powell is employed by the Oklahoma City Police Department where he maintains storage of evidentiary firearms.

A lifelong Oklahoman and genealogist, Powell can trace his direct ancestors to Indian Territory prior to statehood.

Among his relatives is Kinch West, a notorious outlaw who lived at Carey's Gap near the mouth of Horse Creek - an area which would later be submerged by the creation of Grand Lake.

Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado

Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado was born in Garden City, Kansas in 1963. His family later moved to Pilot Point, Texas where he graduated from high school.

A graduate of the Texoma Regional Police Academy, at the age of 19 he became the youngest police chief in Texas. In 1998, he moved to Wynnewood, Oklahoma where he built a private zoo.

His platform includes the legalization of marijuana, as well as a variety of issues concerning the state's finances. He also champions legislation which would protect Oklahomans individual rights. 

Rex Lawhorn

Rex Lawhorn has more than 20 years of experience in political activism.

Most recently he served as the state chairman for the Americans Elect party and the state chairman for the Gary Johnson's Our America Initiative.