Nine candidates are running in the State Senate 45 race and seven of them attended the Mustang Chamber of Commerce Luncheon July 27.
The luncheon included a candidate forum, which all Senate 45 candidates were invited to, but only the republicans attended.
Renee Peerman, executive director for the Mustang Chamber of Commerce explained that the Chamber reached out to the democrats, but didn’t hear back from either one.
The candidate list for the race includes:
—Brian Walters, 41, of Oklahoma City
—Paul Rosino, 54, of Oklahoma City
—Duane Smith, 62, of Oklahoma City
—Kerry Pettingill, 58, of Mustang
—Scott Harris, 33, of Mustang
—Diane Means, 56, of Oklahoma City
—Mathew Hamrick, 36, of Yukon
—Steven Vincent, 51, of Mustang
—Noah S. Ynclan, 43, of Oklahoma City
The special election came about after former Sen. Kyle Loveless resigned in April.
The special primary election is set for Tuesday, with early voting beginning today and going through Saturday. There is no runoff for the election, meaning for the republicans only 15 percent of the votes could declare them as the one to go head to head with a democrat during the general election in November.
“This is the race to get involved in. I’m sure they need your help. It’s a big deal,” Senator Lonnie Paxton said during the luncheon.
During the Chamber Luncheon, each candidate was allowed three minutes to speak about themselves and their campaign.
The candidates spoke in the order of their seating, not in any particular order.
Dr. Means attended the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, did her residency then has been in practice about 20 years.
She has a 33-year-old daughter who is a law enforcement detective, along with her son-in-law who is a K9 handler. She also has grandchildren.
“I think the things I’ve learned during my career in medicine will help me be a good senator,” Means said in a video on her Facebook campaign page. “You learn to interact with a very different set of people with a very different set of backgrounds, education, cultures and languages so you have to work in a coordinated nature with them to take care of your patients in the best possible way. I feel like this is my chance to help the people of Oklahoma and bring something back to a state that has been so very good to me.”
During speech, Means focused on wanting to help the teachers, crediting her being a doctor to all the teachers that helped her along the way.
“We also must balance the budget,” Means said. “We have to find creative ways for our dollars to go farther. We must diversify our energy requirements. We must look at every source that we have in Oklahoma and work at it.
“I don’t have all the answers but I can guarantee you that if I can get access to the number, I’ll work through all the pros and cons and work tirelessly to resolve this issue.”
Means continued to discuss health care being in a “crisis” and how doctors could continue to do what they’re doing, but instead choose to retire because of the state of health care.
“Doctors need to be allowed to do what they need to do. When patients can’t find a good doctor, they come to me and while that’s good job security for me, we pay for it as well.”
Smith was next and discussed his background some. Smith graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s Degree in meteorology. He then spent 32 years at the Oklahoma Water Resources Board with 12 of those as the executive director.
“I worked across all political boundaries across the whole state of Oklahoma. I believe one of the reasons the Oklahoma Farm Bureau is supporting me is because of my convinced private property rights, understanding that if people own, they reap the freedom to develop that property the best they can,” he said.
Smith went to Afghanistan with the Army Corps of Engineers in 2010, working on water powered transportation infrastructure, before coming back to form his consultant company.
“I want to talk a little bit about my demonstrated expertise and answer the question of why Mustang and Canadian County should vote for me,” Smith said. “I have been at the Capitol, I have worked with legislatures, I have been in committee meeting, I have prepared state budgets, I have had cuts to the water resources board over time, I have had to work with and argue with and draw comparisons to other agencies in state government. I believe on day one I’m prepared to go in and interact in a positive way as senator for Senate District 45.
“More than that, I want to talk a little bit about Imagine Mustang. The plan for Mustang. I’m a planner at heart and I develop plans. Through these plans that are data-driven and have public consensus, this is how we come up with common sense solutions. It’s not my rhetoric that’s going to win the day at the Capitol, it’s you the people of Mustang, you the people of Canadian County that come together. I trust you will find common sense solutions and it’s my job to support those. In that support, I will be an advocate for Imagine Mustang. That will be my job as state senator—I will be your biggest advocate, I’ll be behind the scenes and in front of it when necessary and I’ll work with state and federal agencies to try to implement that provisions of that plan.
“I would be honored to have your vote.”
Walters was born and raised in Oklahoma. He grew up in a family with a small business and is now owns a small business of his own. In between those, Walters served as a finance director for energy and farming companies, due to his Master’s Degree in finance.
“I want to get to the question at hand—why should you vote for one of the seven people that are up here? And I think when you’re trying to make that decision, I think you should ask yourself a couple of questions. No. 1, what are the biggest challenges the state is facing and who best can help with those challenges? I think the second question is, who has the demonstrated track record to stand in the face of adversity when the pressure comes? And I think three, and it’s a legitimate question, is this seat, although it’s going to be a republican seat, there’s going to be a general election. It’s not going to be an easy, ‘oh, I’m republican so vote for me.’ It’s going to be a full-fledged election in November. We’ve seen that with a couple of seats that should’ve gone republican, but the democrats outworked the republicans. They have to have the ability to carry through the general election. I think the answer on all three of those questions is Brian Walters.
“Because of my expertise, I think I can make an immediate impact day one to help direct the state in the right direction. We have a lot of folks up there working really, really hard, but the fact of the matter is, there’s not a lot of folks up there with the background and expertise like mine. I would love to able to take that and serve this community, serve the state for not only you, but my kids, your kids, your grandkids and so on.”
Walters went on to talk about his track record to stand up for conservative values and fiscal responsibility in the face of adversity and how he would be best to go against a formidable opponent because he has more than 20 volunteers and has knocked on more than 1,700 doors and will knock on 2,200 before it’s finished.
For the last decade, Hamrick has served the state as head of purchasing for two agencies managing government contracts in the state construction industry.
“In that, I’ve watched how structurally the state is made to be inefficient in its operations and waste more money than it needs to while trying to complete a program and its duties. I believe that I have the ability day one to step in and help to change those laws. I’d make it so that we reduce the overall budget needs and requirements and allow for companies that would like to do business with the state the opportunity to step in, rather than have the challenges in bureaucracy that we have today.”
Hamrick also serves on the statewide Virtual Charter School Board and said he believes education policy is not where it should be.
“That, alongside budget issues, has been one of the biggest topics while I’m out knocking on doors,” he said. “What are we going to do with our schools, how are we going to make it so that teachers are being paid correctly, how can we educate students so that we have a proper workforce for our businesses in the future? I believe there is a lot of money wasted in the administration side and we can reduce the administrative education spending and change it to where the education dollars is being spent toward educating students making better-educated workforces.”
Hamrick said he’d also like to look at how Oklahoma schools currently work with business communities to help those who may not be seeking a college education be work ready.
As a Mustang resident and Oklahoma City metropolitan area lawyer, Harris started up his own law firm eight years ago. It began with just him and now has grown to four employees and continues to grow.
Harris’s law firm focuses on foreclosure events, which is one of the things that got him interested in running for State Senate 45.
“Seeing my clients, most of the time at the worst moment in their life, and they’re looking for help. Just being able to help in that situation has really given me the heart for helping,” Harris said.
Harris’s main three platforms he looks to help are education, budget and criminal justice reform.
“As far as schools go, I have four little ones. The oldest one is seven so we’re going to be dealing with Mustang Public Schools for the next 20 years,” Harris laughed. “It’s in my best interest to make sure we have the best schools possible. On the flip side of that, I also have a brother and a mother who are school teachers, and then aunts and grandparents—Thanksgiving would be awkward if we don’t try to do something about teacher’s pay and education.
“There’s not a silver bullet for the school situation. If anybody says there is, they’re lying to you. It’s going to be a mixture of multiple things. As far as budget goes, I’m sure the legislators present can tell us how difficult that is. At this point, we need to be looking at being more efficient—and I know that’s the common buzzword.”
“For those of you who don’t know, I served my country for 25 years,” Rosino started off, speaking of his time in the Navy.
Rosino is not a born and raised Oklahoman, but he claims Oklahoma as his home because when he and his wife first came to Oklahoma, he had to leave again, and she was here by herself with two young children.
“The people of Oklahoma just took care of her and took her in their arms, and we chose to stay when I retired,” he said. “That’s how great the people of Oklahoma are and I’m so honored to now call myself an Oklahoman.”
Rosino discussed how while he was in the navy, he had a top secret clearance, had a $250 million budget and I had 500 sailors working for me, and I was responsible for all the E6 maintenance at Tinker Airforce Base.
“I never took that lightly because there were 23 souls on board and I had to sign an aircraft as safe for flight,” he said. “Also, I more than 3,000 flight miles in that airplane and that airplane is a nuclear deterrent, and when we fly, the mission that we do is so secret no one knows where that airplane is going to be at any given time—so you can trust in confidence that my integrity is good. That I can manage people and the one thing I can do that is specific—I have the one skillset, as a military member—we have to work with all kinds of people.
“At the Capitol, I hope to take that skill set and say, ‘look, just because you might not like the guy next to you, you might not enjoy working with the person next to you, but there’s a job to be done and the people up there at the Capitol have to do that job. That’s why they’re hired.”
Rosino said the other skillset he has is that he owns a small business “and budgets matter.”
“We have to look at everything we’re spending. We have to pay attention. Is there wasteful spending? Or good spending?”
Pettingill was born on an air force base in Missouri, but he was raised in Mangum, Oklahoma.
In 1982, Pettingill started out as a trooper in the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in Mangum then worked in several other cities before coming to Oklahoma City as a supervisor in April 1995. He responded to the Oklahoma City bombing, as well as the May 3, 1999 tornado and the May 20, 2013 tornado.
Two men he was on patrol squad with were shot and killed in active duty so he decided he wanted to do more and became a part of a Tactical Operations team. He spent time as assistant commander and commander of the Tac-Ops teams.
Pettingill has been trained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He’s been trained as a bomb technician and a hazardous materials technician.
When he was promoted to commander of the tactical teams and bomb squad, he was was chosen as a liaison for the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. In 1998, he received his top secret national security clearance through the Department of Justice and maintained that for fourteen years until the day he retired from OHP.
After the 9-11 attacks in 2001, each state’s governor was encouraged to have their own office of homeland security. In 2002, Pettingill was picked for the office as the deputy director, later becoming the director where he managed a $250 million federal grant budget.
During Pettingill’s career, he has served in every ranking of the OHP. In 2011, he was promoted to colonel or chief of patrol, which is the highest ranking position in the OHP.
He directed about 825 troopers and 1,100 people in total and managed a budget of about $90 million per year.
“So I have a lot of experience there,” Pettingill said.
He has 32 years of “public servant experience to the state,” and saw the State Senate position has a chance to serve again.
Pettingill said he knows the position won’t be easy and he won’t always make people happy, but he has the integrity to make the difficult decisions that are best for the state.
His main focusses are the budget, bringing in revenue and education.
“I would bring a tremendous amount of already known experience to the Oklahoma legislature if I were so lucky to be elected as your state senator,” Pettingill said.
Since the democrats were unable to attend the luncheon, the Mustang News reached out to both Vincent and Ynclan for comment. Vincent called to speak about himself and his campaign, but Ynclan didn’t get back with us as of presstime.
Vincent worked for the police department for years in emergency communications. He’s also an honorably discharged veteran from the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
His wife, Jacline, also works at the police department as a crime investigator.
He has two children, Genevieve, 17, and Wyatt, 12.
Vincent’s main concern and the reason behind him running for State Senate 45 is he doesn’t think working class people are represented well in Oklahoma.
His campaign focuses around wanting to work for the working class people by Replace, Restore and Rebuild.
- “Replacing the politicians who got us into this mess,” because he said Oklahoma legislature is going backward rather than forward.
“It’s just budget failure after budget failure after budget failure. This is the third consecutive year for a budget failure,” he said.
- Restore funding and raising the Gross Production Tax (GPT).
- “Rebuild Oklahoma’s economy from there,” Vincent said. He said he plans to ask wealthy people to hold off on any more tax cuts because they’re doing fine and Oklahoma needs to rebuild everything.
Vincent said he is also focusing on education and public safety, including with the cuts with mentally disabled adults.
“I’ve talked to two mothers who have mentally disabled adult children directly affected by these cuts. Blame and responsibility goes to our legislature. People are affected by their failures and our state is dominated by republicans. It’s not only a fiscal failure, but a moral failure,” Vincent said.