Breaking down the Tuesday elections

CANADIAN COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 1

Voters in Canadian County District 1 will go to the polls Tuesday to decide who will represent them on the county commission.

The incumbent is Marc Hader, a Republican. Hader is seeking his second, four-year term.

He is being challenged by Marcus Hall, a Libertarian.

The Yukon Review posed a series of questions to both candidates. Below are their e-mailed responses.

YUKON REVIEW: Do you support the relocation and expansion of the Canadian County Fairgrounds, and why?

MARC HADER: Absolutely! The fairgrounds are landlocked on a small acreage, tucked into a semi-residential/agricultural area next to a flood-prone creek with inadequate, antiquated buildings from the 1950s.  The new site will be visible from I-40, have at least 50 acres, and will be a part of a designated “entertainment district” in El Reno.  The property owners and the City hope to create a vibrant commercial area with the help of a TIF district.  That TIF can help to pay for the needed infrastructure for these future entities.  So, there will be a synergy from the partnership between the three or four parties.  Additionally, the wider range of activities that will make use of the facility will provide room nights, restaurant traffic and other ancillary commercial benefits.

MARCUS HALL: I am opposed to the relocation and expansion as it is presented. I am not opposed to improving the facilities we have now. $47 million is too much of the taxpayers’ money to spend without a vote of the citizens. There are so many needs in our county that are much more important than this pipe dream. The $47 million number will only grow larger. There will be ongoing maintenance as well as someone to market the facility.

YR: What is your plan to improve the county’s roads and bridges?

HALL: We need two more full-time size and weights deputies to protect our roads and bridges as well as designated truck routes that are monitored and enforced. We have to start focusing on the long-term solution and not “patch and fill” to the point of our roads having moguls like a ski run. Technology is changing every day and I want to use those improvements to better our roads and bridges. Just because it’s always been done in a specific manner doesn’t mean that is still the best way.

HADER: As I have knocked on thousands of doors, without a doubt roads and bridges are the issue of greatest focus and concern to the citizens.  It’s not even close.  As such, we at District No. 1 will continue to rehabilitate our paved roads and then implement a maintenance plan to preserve them for longer service. We will continue to work hard to mitigate the impact on our roads from the heightened energy exploration.  We have partnered with our cities to rebuild roads that would otherwise go unimproved.  I will continue to press for legislation that allows us to partner with energy companies to provide road maintenance agreements for the infrastructure they impact as opposed to arbitrary permitting fees that cannot be used for road improvements.

YR: What do you see as the most important issue facing the county, and what is your plan to make that happen?

HADER: In the short term, I believe providing quality and safe infrastructure to our citizens is paramount.  Businesses thrive adjacent to quality infrastructure.  And, moms and dads want to know their kids are getting to and from school safely.  I hope I’ve answered the plan for this in the previous question.

As for the long term, I believe our water supply will be a critical factor.  If we can’t secure a stable, cost-effective water supply, we won’t be the fastest growing county for very long.  We need all of our Canadian County communities to partner together, along with others outside our county boundaries to diffuse costs and greatly reduce our dependence on Oklahoma City.  OKC has warned that they will be tripling their customer’s rates.

HALL: We have to make sure our infrastructure is adequate for our continued growth. We are gaining so many residents that we are failing to keep up. We are housing inmates in five other counties because our jail is not adequate for the sheriff’s needs. Our roads are atrocious. We have potholes big enough for a grown adult to lay in. Too many of our roads flood in normal rainfall, let alone the weather we have been having as of late.

YR: Why should I vote for you?

HALL: I am running for the citizens of the county. Not the rich, not the business owners, for everyone. I don’t feel like our current leadership is representing the taxpayer’s best interests. I will return calls and emails to the people who take the time to reach out to me. I am not running as part of a bigger plan. I don’t want to be king of Canadian County or be a part of a political dynasty. I am fiercely loyal and do not see this position as a stepping stone to bigger things. Being elected by my fellow citizens is not something I take lightly. It will truly be an honor to serve them.

HADER: If philosophy of proper governance is important, mine is that our founders intended government to be small and close to the people.  I strive to fulfill the statutory duties of commissioner with excellence, and then get out of your way so you can achieve the American Dream.

If qualifications are important, I have sat in most of the seats of the stakeholders who deal with county government.  I’ve worked at a state agency in ODOT, in private engineering, for a municipality (El Reno), Oklahoma County, and the planning and zoning arena besides four years as your Commissioner.

If integrity, accountability, and accessibility are important to you; I feel I have kept my word as to what I said I would do.

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Marc Hader

Age: 54

Occupation: County Commissioner, District No.1

Spouse:  Denise Crosswhite Hader

Children:  Two daughters, three grandchildren

Previous political experience:  I have never held a previous political office prior to serving as county commissioner these last 3½ years.

Marcus W Hall

Age: 43

Occupation: Self Employed, Asset Recovery Service

Spouse: Dayla Hall, Director of Oncology and Neurology at SSM Health

Children: Sabrina – 17 – Senior at Piedmont HS, Kyla  – 16 – Sophomore at Piedmont HS

Party – Libertarian

Office sought: Canadian County Commissioner District 1

Previous political experience: None

CANADIAN COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 3

One of the more hotly contested political races that will be decided by voters on Tuesday is that of District 3 Canadian County commissioner.

The incumbent is Jack Stewart, a Republican who is seeking his third term in office. He is being challenged by Daniel Pugh, who is running as an independent. Pugh has previously challenged Stewart three other times as a Republican.

The Yukon Review posed a series of questions to both candidates. Below are their e-mailed responses.

YUKON REVIEW: Do you support the relocation and expansion of the Canadian County Fairgrounds, and why?

JACK STEWART: Yes, but on a pay-as-you-go philosophy, not a $47 million all-at-once monstrosity.  It will be planned a phase at a time and paid for before proceeding to a subsequent phase.  The phases will never include more than can be supported by a maximum of 60 percent of the use tax.  Therefore, no tax increase.

The Canadian County Event Center & Arena’s design will offer people an opportunity to convene for the purposes of learning, interacting, exhibiting and entertaining.  The space will cater to the youth of Canadian County, giving them the ability to participate in a variety of educational and recreational experiences.

DANIEL PUGH: I support renovation of existing fairgrounds over re-location.  This multi-million dollar field of dreams, fantasy project receives scant citizen support, and fulfills no pressing need.  Such close proximity to the premier OKC fairgrounds and with the prospect of a mega-casino in El Reno, the desired $47million complex will be doomed unable to compete for booking shows, concerts or conventions, will never pay its way, requiring ever increasing subsidies.  The waste would be staggering and siphons precious revenues from the urgent needs of roads, jail, schools and water resources.  Pressing ahead with this risky project, ignoring the wisdom of the business community and spurning the sentiment of the people, is just another example of egregious administrative malpractice that was practiced over the last eight years.

YR: What is your plan to improve the county’s roads and bridges?

DP: The canned excuse given for the deferred road maintenance is lack of funds.  The reason is confused priorities.  Instead of using 60 percent of the new use-tax revenues (approaching $2 million annually) on a fiscally extravagant fairground re-location, I would initiate a more robust program of road repair.  For an example, even allowing for additional sub-base modification prior to application, one year’s revenues could provide 30 miles of addition double chip-seal roads, nearly a 10th of the county’s 344 road miles. Just as importantly, I would work conscientiously and cooperatively with our county’s municipal officials on inter-local partnerships to improve all of our roads.  A wise mayor once said, “Communication is 50 percent of cooperation.” The incumbent has a dismal reputation in this regard. … I will do much better.

JS: Continue to rock many more of the dirt or thin gravel roads, recycle a lot of the cheap pavements into the base as specified on geo-tech reports that consider traffic loading and subgrade properties.  The days of the past (before my being a commissioner), where chips were simply placed on dirt are over.

With the recent purchase of a reclaimer, we can now grind up the existing, weak surface, incorporate it into the base for extra strength, add more base material, and finally have a quality smooth surface.  With over 340 miles of road in District 3 alone, all of them cannot be done overnight.

Bridges are inspected at least every two years.  As funds become available, the worst or highest traveled will be replaced first.

YR: What do you see as the most important issue facing the county, and what is your plan to make that happen?

JS: First; the jail, children’s justice center and fairgrounds are not a problem.

The largest issue is county roads that are in incorporated areas but are very minimally, if at all, maintained by Oklahoma City, as is their responsibility.  The issue is how to take care of our constituents when there are no tax dollars received for those roads.  At the county level, we can only do what a state statute allows. The unincorporated roads (outside city limits) were placed by simply blading and cutting ditches. Less than 5 percent are truly paved.

The solution is to continue pursuing working agreements with both OKC and with the various energy companies. I’ll also continue working for statute changes that will ensure responsibility when a company causes damages.

DP: There are several pressing issues confronting Canadian County. One key challenge is the chronic overcrowded county jail. The latest $4.9 million, 120-bed Band-Aid jail addition failed miserably at its task, designed by incompetent builders, inherently dangerous to both inmates and staff, and bleeds the county of $1 million for out-of-county inmate housing and transport. Eight years ago, Stewart was willing to raise taxes for an $18 million, 300-bed jail. I proposed a proven solution, equivalent capacity, for $6 million serviced from the general fund.  An additional 190-bed campus could be in place within a year for $4 million with monthly payments of $35,000, less than 25 percent of the monthly use-tax collection of $150,000.  This is one of several issues that should take priority over re-locating the fairgrounds.

YR: Why should I vote for you?

DP: The record of the last eight years has been that of squandered revenues and misplaced priorities.  Our roads are left heaved and buckled. I’ll address them with dispatch. Our jail is too small, dangerous and costly. I had and still have a complete solution without tax increases. I’ll halt the new fairground folly and renovate the old. I’ll assist schools at every turn. If you want to restore common sense to county government, if you want to re-establish a proper hierarchy of priorities, I bring to the table three decades of business ownership experience, commitment to excellence, innovation, resourcefulness and efficiency.  I will show up … be on time … and return your calls … working tirelessly to lead Canadian County forward, by example, toward a more sustained and prosperous future.

JS:  A vote for Jack Stewart is a vote for the only candidate who totally understands the issues and has both the experience and education to handle them.  I’ll also be able to continue important contact relationships, such as with city governments, state government and private companies primarily in the oil and gas energy sector.

Additionally, as a graduate civil engineer and licensed professional engineer, I have designed plus directed the construction and maintenance of many projects in the last 40 years.  Further, I actually understand our water studies along with flood plain management, traffic control, economic development and the education system.

I ask for your vote on Nov. 6 to continue the work that is underway.

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Jack Stewart

Age: 69

Occupation: County Commissioner/Professional Civil Engineer

Spouse:  Jan Stewart

Children: 3 daughters — Lisa, Dina, Maryann; 3 grandchildren

Party: Republican

Office sought: Canadian County Commissioner District 3

Previous political experience:    8 1/2 years as Canadian County Commissioner for District 3

Daniel Pugh

Age: 67

Occupation: Retired Contractor and restauranteur

Spouse: Ruthie Pugh

Children: No Children

Party: Independent

Office Sought: Canadian County Commissioner District 3

Previous political experience: Three previous campaigns for commissioner (Special 2010, primary 2010, primary 2014)

HOUSE DISTRICT 43

When Canadian County voters go to the polls Tuesday, they will help decide who will fill the Oklahoma House of Representative District 43 seat.

The office currently is filled by John Paul Jordan, who chose not to seek re-election.

The two candidates for the office are Democrat Chantelle Cory and Republican Jay Steagall.

Cory is a consultant working in enterprise systems. Steagall is a Yukon business owner, who also serves as a reservist in the U.S. Air Force.

The Yukon Review recently posed a series of questions to the two candidates. Below are their emailed responses.

YUKON REVIEW: Why are you running for office?

CHANTELLE CORY: When I was first asked to run for office, I took stock. I have spent more than 25 years as a problem-solver. My career in information technology has taken me into many industries – oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, finance. I bring a wealth of experience in fixing problems, rooting out inefficiencies, building transparency, balancing the budget, and effecting change. I am ready to bring these skills to the Oklahoma Legislature.

I commit to champion the concerns of the people of House District 43. Oklahoma is a great state, but we have a lot of challenges right now. I am running to put out the fires and lay a foundation for long-term success. I ask for your vote on Nov. 6.

JAY STEAGALL: I am uniquely qualified to assist in addressing budgetary and operational challenges facing our state. I earned a degree from OSU in agricultural economics and have spent the last 22 years in service to our country, now as a major in the Air Force Reserve. My responsibilities and duties required research, accountability and decisions with significant consequences made in defense of our nation. I have built three businesses from the ground up, including one on Main Street in Yukon. It is critical that business owners serve in the Legislature to “right the ship” — citizen legislators who are equipped with the ability to understand profit and loss statements, manage budgets, and know what policies and reforms need to be made to encourage new jobs, businesses, and economic growth.

YR: Education represents more than 50 percent of Oklahoma’s budget. Do you believe it is sufficiently funded at the moment and what needs to be accomplished?

JS: I have not had an opportunity to review the budget, but, I certainly know this is a frequent topic of discussion. Even though there was a move forward with pay raises for teachers, the overall funding formula has not been addressed. Public education is based on a funding formula that was established in the 1980s, provided through a mix of federal and state funds, and from local sources of revenue such as property taxes and bond initiatives approved by voters. It is overdue to examine fully if there are reforms that are necessary to improve outcomes and resources in this over 30-year-old system, and then see what can be done to make sure that Oklahoma’s education system leads in excellence.

CC: I believe the relative allocation of over half our budget to education is appropriate. The work achieved this year through the teacher walkout is a much-needed improvement as Oklahoma education has lost nearly a quarter of its funding in the past decade. If we were just keeping up with inflation and the addition of over 50,000 students in the past decade, funding for education would have been increased by over 16 percent. Our current goals should be focused on hiring and retaining certified teachers in every classroom; investing in classrooms to reduce class sizes, update textbooks and ensure safe classrooms.

YR: Should the Gross Production Tax be increases? Why?

CC: The GPT was lowered in 1994 to incentivize horizontal drilling — then a new technology. Today, horizontal drilling has proven itself wildly successful.

The discounted rate was set to expire, but the Legislature has extended this “incentive” – even after the industry no longer needs this reduced rate. It is time to retire the incentive rate and return to 7 percent GPT.

I fully support the state incentivizing new technologies and industries to expand and diversify our economy. There should always be an expiration date with clearly defined criteria. The purpose of the state investing in new technology and businesses is to build our economy – not to subsidize industries at the expense of our citizens.

JS: The GPT was already increased this year — when we consider additional increases we must always look at regional costs and competitive positioning in business to ensure we do not price ourselves out of the market. This is another reason why we must modernize government operations, tax codes, and attract new companies to diversify our industry base so our state’s fortunes do not rise and fall on the success of one industry.

YR: What should the state do to reduce its high incarceration rate?

JS: This is an effort that will take a commitment from both public and private sector — we should welcome assistance in our community from faith-based initiatives, non-profit, corporations. Drug courts, alternative programs have been shown to be effective. The two biggest causal factors as well for offenders are lack of ability to get a job and uncertainty of housing. Reintegration programs are critical to help with transition, mentorship and occupational licensing reform to help find potential job opportunities that in the past may have been restrictive to those who had a prior offense.

CC: In September, Oklahoma’s prison population topped 28,000 with a cost per inmate over $17,000. In 2016, Oklahoma voters approved State Questions 780 and 781. Together, these questions reclassified simple drug possession and low-level property crimes as misdemeanors. The savings from these changes was to be distributed for mental health, substance abuse and other services. The will of the people was clear, but the implementation of these changes has not been. We should both ensure the new law is enacted fully and consider options for making the changes retroactive to reduce prison populations. With this, Oklahoma stands to save over $150 million dollars annually.

To be clear, I want dangerous people removed from our community. But Oklahoma’s criminal justice system has long since diverted from this mission.

YR: Should Oklahoma seek Medicaid expansion? Why?

CC: Oklahoma should take the Medicaid expansion option. This is the right decision, morally and economically. In a recent NewsOK article, Patti Davis, CEO of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, stated that Oklahoma’s rate of return with the Medicaid expansion would be $9 to every $1 invested by Oklahoma.

The Medicaid expansion would bring billions of dollars back to the state and create thousands of jobs. Further, the states that have accepted the expansion have consistently seen a net benefit. Oklahoma cannot afford to leave these dollars in Washington.

I have talked to residents in Yukon who have started GoFundMe pages to pay their medical bills. This is not OK. It is time to realize our citizens deserve affordable access to healthcare.

JS: Before we seek to expand a program, we should first audit and ensure that our dollars are being used wisely, and what options and opportunities are available to best serve the needs of Oklahomans.

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Chantelle Cory

Age: 48

Occupation: Computer Scientist/IT

Spouse: Casey Beasley

Party: Democrat

Previous political experience: none

Jay W. Steagall

Age:  41

Occupation:  US Air Force Reserve Pilot / Owner of Cloverleaf Precision, LLC in Yukon

Spouse:  Kimberly Steagall

Children:  two adopted children

Party:  Republican

Previous political experience:  None

HOUSE DISTRICT 41

When Canadian County voters go to the polls Tuesday, they will help decide who will fill the House District 41 seat.

The office represents the northern portion of Canadian County as well as much of Garfield County. John Ennis, who holds the office, is term limited.

The two candidates are Democrat Jennie Scott, who is a teacher, and Republican Denise Crosswhite Hader, who works as a staff member at the Oklahoma Legislature.

The Yukon Review recently posed a series of questions to the candidates. Below are their emailed responses.

YUKON REVIEW: Why are you running for office?

DENISE CROSSWHITE HADER: We are blessed to live in a country where we can have a say in our government. It is a responsibility for as a citizen to be engaged.

I have always had a passion for public policy and service. Government should be limited and close to the citizens it serves. Maintenance is the key: home, your body, or our government. We must work to keep things in balance.

I am in a position to keep the balance within our state government.  Citizens must engage on what we are doing with the funds we take as tax dollars, education programs for children, or the people we sentence to prison, or we will be of balance and lose our chance to continue to be the great state we have been.

JENNIE SCOTT: Our state is currently facing an opioid epidemic, underfunded schools, hospitals on the brink of closing, overcrowded prisons, and a dissatisfaction that has become palpable. Representatives that cater to special interests have put policies in place that benefit a few at the expense of the many.  I chose to run for office so that I could represent everyday Oklahomans. My goal is to create policies that support children and families.  By investing in healthy families and the next generation of Oklahomans, we will create a state that works for all of its citizens.

YR: Education represents more than 50 percent of Oklahoma’s budget. Do you believe it is sufficiently funded at the moment and what needs to be accomplished in the future?

JS: The education budget has been cut close to 180 million dollars in the past decade.  While overall spending has decreased, the number of students has increased by 50,000 students.  This has led to the lowest student funding in the region ($8,075 per student in Oklahoma compared to $9,081 in Texas and $10,329 in Kansas; source: National Center for Education Statistics).  Because the student funding is so low, classes are growing in size, schools are implementing four-day weeks, science labs lack materials, and many schools cut programs like art, music and foreign language classes.  It is imperative that we correct this.  If we restore the GPT to 7 percent, we can restore student funding to pre-recession levels.

DCH: “At the moment” is the key phrase.  Oklahoma just pasted the largest tax increase in state history.  Along with the fact that we are coming out of a recession/depression, state revenues are on the upswing.  Before we ask for more funding, we must see better outcomes in education. We must also see better working relationships between common, Careertech, and higher education.  Children should not graduate from high school only to find out that they need remediation in college.

The current funding formula is too complicated. The legislature should remove itself from micro-management of education. I suggest funding in a simple block grant/per pupil fashion and let local school boards and superintendents manage it.  Then through local control, citizens can hold local officials accountable.

YR: Should the Gross Production Tax be increased? Why?

DCH: No. If you want less of something you tax it more. The Legislature just increased GPT from 2 to 5 percent.  Oil/Gas is Oklahoma’s biggest economic driver. But it isn’t just the GPT but all the people who are employed by Oil/Gas. All those salaries pay income tax. All those employees purchase goods and services.  We don’t want to impede that part of our economy. Before we increase taxes again, we must assess where we are as a state.

JS: When determining the tax rate, it is important to find the sweet spot between generating enough revenue to pay for core services while still encouraging industry and growth. Restoring the GPT to 7 percent will help us achieve that.  A 7 percent rate will be competitive as compared to other oil producing states but will provide the revenue we need to make needed repairs on roads and bridges, return student funding to pre-recession levels, and invest in mental health and other preventative measures that will save us money in the long term.

YR: What should the state do to reduce its high incarceration rate?

JS: First and foremost, we must invest in better mental health services, especially in our schools. Due to budget cuts, we have seen a decrease in student counseling.  Providing students with counselors who can teach coping skills and build resiliency is an absolute next step.  We also must look at new offenders, specifically those ages 18-25 and intervene with addiction counseling, life skills training, etc.  Oklahoma needs an alternative facility that addresses root causes in our young offenders who otherwise have a 92 percent chance of returning to prison.  Many other states have been able to reduce their incarceration rate and significantly reduce spending while still maintaining public safety.  Texas, for example, was able to save three billion dollars over 15 years by investing in such alternative facilities.

DCH: Incarceration is an issue we have neglected far too long. We must focus on lowering the rate of repeat offenders. Having the private sector; faith based and non-profits more engaged will help lower those rates.  We should also advance programs for inmates to come out with an education (GED or diploma) and a skill to obtain technical licenses; welder, cosmetology and more.  Also, drug courts are a far more efficient and cost effective way to help citizens that have an addiction than to just lock them up and make the addiction worse.

YR: Should Oklahoma seek Medicaid expansion? Why?

DCH: No, the federal government is over $20 trillion in debt.  Funds that we currently get from the federal government are truly debt dollars.  That said, these are the funds we as state taxpayers gave them.  It is the burden of the state legislators to constantly review to see if the federal dollars are really worth the price.  In some cases we may be getting a better bang for our buck.  But, I believe in this case the funds are likely to not be worth the actual price we pay.  In a few years we will pay more in state tax dollars for matching funds, state employee pay and benefits/retirement pay than what we are actually getting from the federal government to facilitate the program.

JS: Yes. 16.5% of Oklahomans are uninsured. These are working Oklahomans who fall through the cracks of too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough money to pay for private insurance. Care for these Oklahomans is driving up costs. Rural hospitals take the brunt of this burden. With the Medicaid expansion, $900 million our federal tax dollars will return to the state and help cover the cost.  Oklahoma would be responsible for $100 million.  While that sounds like a large price tag, consider how many jobs will be saved if hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and clinics around the state thrive.  The jobs created and saved will pay for the state’s portion through income taxes.  More importantly, lives across Oklahoma will be saved.

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Denise Crosswhite Hader

Age: 53

Occupation: Property Management Business Owner and Legislative Staff, Oklahoma House of Representatives

Spouse: Marc Hader

Children: two daughters, three grandchildren

Party: Republican

Previous political experience: Never held a publicly elected office but served for U.S. 5th District Congressman Ernest Istook; legislative liaison for Labor Commissioner Mark Costello; appointed to the Tinker Bond Oversight Committee for the protection of Tinker AFB from closure during the Base Realignment and Closure.

Jennie Scott

Age: 41

Occupation: Fourth-grade teacher

Spouse: Brian Scott

Children: 2 children, ages 13 and 11

Party: Democrat

Office sought: House of Representatives, district 41

Previous political experience: None

HOUSE DISTRICT 47

Voters in Mustang will go to the polls next Tuesday to decide several races, including the office of House District 47. The candidates are Republican Brian Hill, a local business owner, and Democrat Sarah Carnes, a school teacher.

The Yukon Review recently posed a series of questions to the two candidates. Below are their emailed responses.

YUKON REVIEW: Why are you running for office?

BRIAN HILL: Oklahoma is in a position of crisis and the solutions to move us in the right direction will not come easy.  It is necessary for our next representative to have a broad view of the issues, not just a singular subject focus.  By seeking sustainable revenue opportunities and pursuing greater efficiencies throughout our vast state departments, I will be a pro economic growth representative who will seek solutions to the issues we are facing.  I am a conservative Republican business owner with vast experience across multiple sectors. I believe in Local and I will work for solutions to better fund our systems for long-term growth.

SARA CARNES: During the teacher walkout in April, I was frustrated by how our elected officials have repeatedly short-changed Oklahoma students and teachers by under-funding education. I’m running because someone has to stand up and ensure our concerns are represented. I’m not a handpicked cookie-cutter candidate that regurgitates tired political talking points. I’m an everyday citizen ready to take action and implement solutions.

My collaboration, problem-solving skills and leadership experience have prepared me to serve my community as your Representative. If elected, I’ll always reflect on my core Oklahoma values when making decisions and championing legislation that positively impacts House District 47 constituents. We can’t afford the “business as usual” mentality. Repeating failed policies and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

YR: Education represents more than 50 percent of Oklahoma’s budget. Do you believe it is sufficiently funded and what else needs to be accomplished?

BH: I recently spoke at a local school as a guest speaker.  When I asked the students to take out a sheet of paper for a team building demonstration, they giggled.  The teacher explained that her classroom does not have “extras” such as paper. …  Simply stated, No.  The education of our students is not sufficiently funded. I am convinced that the only way to properly fund education is by diversifying our economy.  We must work towards funding education for the next 10 years, not just next year’s budget.  That can only happen by developing our local economy in HD47 into markets (Technology, Aerospace, Manufacturing) that will produce the sustained ad valorem which is equivalent to the rapid growth of our school district.

SC: We must enable our citizens to focus on “career security” instead of “job security.” Creating a foundation of current competencies and expanding skills requires adequate education resources. If we don’t change our course, we risk a stagnant economy where other states leave us in the dust! If elected, I’ll immediately propose legislation that supports and fully funds educational needs.

Neighboring states invest substantially more in K-12 education and so should Oklahoma. Annual investments in education appropriations must be increased to help Oklahoma reach par within our region, specifically increasing per-student spending as well as teacher and support staff salaries. In addition, we must increase transparency in this process to increase taxpayer understanding of how public education is funded and exactly how funds are invested.

YR: Should the Gross Production Tax be increased? Why?

SH: The Oklahoma gross production tax is a well-established levy on the production of oil and gas, initiated not long after statehood. I support a reasonable increase and adjusting the proportion of the gross production tax that’s allocated to education. For example, only a small portion (1 percent) of this revenue is allocated to counties and school districts. A 2 percent increase would double funding.

To put this tax into perspective, it’s ranked the fifth largest state government revenue source. The other top sources include personal income tax, sales tax, motor vehicle tax and motor fuel tax. An increase of any of these four taxes would significantly impact the budgets of everyday citizens, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.

BH: No. At 5 percent, although production of new sites has already declined with some operations, we are still comparable to the GPT of others states such as Texas.  However, if we increase the GPT up to 7 percent or more, as suggested by some candidates, the loss of new development could be devastating for our economy.  Should our largest industry find that other states are more profitable and they decided to halt new drilling, not only would our states tax revenue take a volatile hit, but also the decline would be felt on a local level through decreased ad valorem and in the funding of our schools.  We must remain focused at diversifying our economy rather than continuing to increase taxes on current industries.

YR: What should the state do to reduce its high incarceration rate?

BH: We must evaluate the scale by which we decide how many years an individual will serve for an offense.  I find it deplorable that an individual who is intoxicated on his second DUI can run into a college student, resulting in that young man’s death, but only serves four years while a mom of three can be convicted and sentenced to 30 years for failure to protect, after also being beaten by the man that beat her children, yet he only served two years.  Since announcing my candidacy, I have learned of many stories such as these two from law enforcement officers who are concerned by these inconsistencies in our justice system.

SC: It’s critical that Oklahoma develops and implements a strategy to improve the corrections system. Adopting criminal justice best practices is the first step to simultaneously protect public safety and save our state money. Changing the laws and policies that drive the rate of prisoners into and out of the corrections system is imperative.

Incarceration reforms are necessary, including evaluating lengthy sentences and reclassifying low-level felonies to misdemeanors. Re-entry reforms should emphasize grad uated strategies, including expanding probation eligibility, streamlining parole review processes, and increasing the use of monitored probation and supervised parole. Importance must be placed on enabling ex-prisoners to develop the skills to successfully re-enter society and prevent the commission of other crimes.

YR: Should Oklahoma seek Medicaid expansion? Why?

SC: Wellness, nutrition, and mental health needs are crucial to Oklahoma families. Children and the elderly are Oklahoma’s most vulnerable populations. If elected, I will advocate for the well-being and health of all our citizens.

It’s time to be proactive. Medicaid expansion has the potential to lower the uninsured rate, provide gains in health coverage, and improve the physical health and quality of life for our citizens. When Oklahoman’s have access to adequate health insurance, they are less likely to delay seeking healthcare services, don’t skip taking critical medications because of cost, and seek care from primary sources rather than expensive emergency room visits.

BH: No. After considerable research, I am convinced that any suggested benefit from the expansion of the program would not be sufficient to adjust for the increase in healthcare cost for Oklahomans or the additional $100 million tax burden on our state’s citizens.

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Sarah Carnes

Age: 46

Occupation: Mustang High School Art Educator

Spouse: Jeramy Carnes

Children: Savannah and Julienne Carnes

Party:  Democrat

Previous political experience:  None

Brian Hill

Age: 41

Occupation: Business owner and developer

Spouse: Melissa

Children: Eleanor and Josiah

Party: Republican

Previous political experience: Being involved as a citizen and business leader at local, county and state level.

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 22

Voters in Senate District 22, which includes part much of Canadian County, will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide who should serve as its next senator.

The candidates include incumbent Stephanie Bice, a Republican who is seeking her second term in office, and Democrat William Andrews.

The Yukon Review recently emailed each candidate a series of questions. Below are Andrews’ responses. Despite numerous attempts, Bice did not respond to the questions.

YUKON REVIEW: Why are you running for office?

WILLIAM ANDREWS: I am running for office because I am tired of seeing the vast majority of Oklahomans working harder but falling further behind. For years, the state legislature has slashed funding for the core services on which many Oklahoma families depend, while offering special deals and giveaways to special interests and wealthy contributors. When teachers, students, parents and community members came together during the teacher walkout to demand better for our children, they were ignored, maligned, slandered and bullied. My wife is a first-grade teacher. I work at a public university. Our daughter graduated as valedictorian at Deer Creek in 2018. Education is the most effective, most efficient path to prosperity. It is shameful that we believe more in the value of public education than they do.

YR: Education represents more than 50 percent of Oklahoma’s budget. Do you believe it is sufficiently funded at the moment and how what needs to be accomplished?

WA: No. Education is not sufficiently funded. The amount we spend per student is, quite frankly, pathetic. Even setting aside the embarrassment that is teacher pay and considering only the spending per student, it is a tragedy. Wyoming was recently named the best state for public education west of the Mississippi. That state spends twice what Oklahoma does on education. We need to invest in Oklahoma’s future by adequately funding education. And I don’t think we need to just try to be average. What’s wrong with trying to be the best? The key to recruiting better, higher-paying jobs to Oklahoma doesn’t lie in giveaways and kickbacks. It lies in creating an environment that companies see as a place their employees will be happy to raise their families.

YR: Should the Gross Production Tax be increased? Why?

WA: The Gross Production Tax should be returned to the 7 percent rate it was supposed to have been at. The low percentage was established on horizontal wells when the technology was in its infancy and the state wanted drillers to test the technology here. It was more successful than most imagined it would be. That break was to have expired years ago, but state legislators, eager to please the oil and gas industry, extended it. This is a prime example of the failures of this legislature. If they had exhibited the slightest bit of backbone, they and Gov. (Mary) Fallin would have let the tax break expire in 2015, and much of the trouble the state is currently in could have been averted.

YR: What should the state do to reduce its high incarceration rate?

WA: A commission should be established to review the records of the non-violent offenders currently in DOC custody for offenses like simple possession. Based on their recommendation, sentences should be commuted. Oklahoma leads the entire world in incarceration rate, not because Oklahoma is more dangerous, but because Oklahoma’s politicians, in a frenzy to appear “tough on crime” locked up people who were otherwise law-abiding, taxpaying members of our communities. So, the state loses tax revenue by imprisoning someone for a crime that a majority of citizens believe should only be a misdemeanor. We destroy families and communities over minor infractions, forcing single parents and children onto public assistance and forcing people into the very cycle of dependency we claim to despise.

YR: Should Oklahoma seek Medicaid expansion? Why?

WA: Yes. In the first place the Medicaid expansion dollars are federal dollars that are paid for through our taxes. Of course, we should try to get those dollars back. Further, Oklahoma is a state that has always been known for compassion and providing help to those who need it. Affordable health care is a basic necessity and we should do everything possible to help people lead healthier lives. We have already seen several rural hospitals and care centers forced to close because Gov. Fallin and the legislature decided they would rather play politics than actually ensure that 200,000 more Oklahomans were able to receive necessary health care services. That is a shameful betrayal of Oklahoma values.

CANDIDATE PROFILES

William Andrews

Age: 48

Occupation: Web developer

Spouse: Nancy, first-grade teacher at Oklahoma City Public Schools

Children: Emily, graduated Deer Creek High School as valedictorian.

Party: Democratic Party

Previous political experience: Ran for Senate District 22 in 2006, lost in the primary.

Stephanie Bice

Age: 44

Occupation: Former Small Business Owner

Spouse: Yes

Children: Two

Party: Republican

Previous political experience: Currently State Senator – District 22

CANADIAN COUNTY ASSOCIATE DISTRICT JUDGE

Canadian County voters will decide who will serve as the next associate district judge for the county on Tuesday.

The office is currently held by Bob Hughey. He is the lone candidate for the office after his challenger, Rachel Bussett, announced Thursday morning that she was withdrawing from the race due to a conflict of interest.

Because Bussett withdrew after the ballots were printed and some voters had already cast ballots, should she win, the governor will make an appointment to the seat.

Because it is a judicial seat, it is inappropriate to ask the candidates about their feelings toward certain issues. The Yukon Review asked each candidate to provide a statement about why he or she is the best candidate for the seat.

Bussett, because of her withdrawal, did not provide a statement.

Below is the statement provided by Hughey.

The associate district judge handles all juvenile cases in Canadian County, and I have the experience to continue presiding over these proceedings.

I have worked in the area of juvenile law for the past 22 years, and I have the experience that our families and our children deserve.

As an attorney, I represented parents and children in juvenile cases, and I have been able to see cases from each of those perspectives.  For the past 10 years, I have presided over all juvenile dockets in Canadian County.  All in all, I have been involved in more than 6,000 juvenile cases, including adoptions, child welfare cases, delinquent cases and guardianship cases.

Being a juvenile judge has not just been a job to me; it has been my commitment.

My focus has always been to obtain the best outcome for children and for families.

In addition to courtroom proceedings, I also started programs to help children, including a truancy program.  Under this program, every school district in the county has seen a substantial decrease in their high school drop-out rate.

Keeping kids in school helps everyone.

For the past 10 years, I have also overseen the daily operations of the Children’s Justice Center, and I am very proud of the programs and services that we offer.  And I am also pleased to report that we have been substantially under budget every year.

I am a life-long resident of Canadian County.  I have been married to my wife for 36 years, and we have 5 children and 4 grandchildren.

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Bob W. Hughey

Age: 58

Occupation:  Associate District Court Judge

Spouse: Garlanda.

Children: 5 children — Landon, Ryan, Haley, Tyler, Tori; four grandchildren

Office Sought:    Canadian County Associate District Judge.

Previous Political Experience: I have served in my current capacity as associate district judge for the past 10 years.

CANADIAN COUNTY DISTRICT JUDGE

Beginning in 2019, Canadian County will have a second district judge. Voters will decide who that will be when they go to the polls Tuesday.

The position was created because of the county’s growth as well as the increasing caseload.

Initially, there were three candidates for the position — Special Judge Jack McCurdy and state Rep. John Paul Jordan and Tracy George. George lost in the primary election.

McCurdy and Jordan were to face in Tuesday’s election. However, Jordan withdrew from the election in September after finding that he might not be eligible to hold the position.

The seat was created while Jordan was serving in the state House of Representatives. Oklahoma law prohibits a lawmaker from accepting a position that was created during the final two years of service.

While Jordan withdrew from the race, it came after the ballots had been printed. His name will appear on the ballot.

Should Jordan win, the governor will appoint a replacement.

Because the office is a judicial seat, it is inappropriate to ask the candidates about their feelings toward certain issues. The Yukon Review asked each candidate to provide a statement about why he or she is the best candidate for the seat.

Jordan did not provide a statement.

Below, is the statement provided by McCurdy.

I am running for district judge for Canadian County because I have a vested interest in Canadian County.

I am a lifelong resident of the county and I want to ensure that the citizens of the county continue to have access to fair and impartial judges and easy access to the courthouse no matter what their issues may be.

I feel that I am the most qualified candidate for the position for several reasons.

First, I practiced law for 25 years in the county before being appointed to the bench. I had a general practice of law that well prepared me to be a judge.

Since going on the bench 11 years ago, I have handled every kind of case from $50 small claims cases to capital murder cases.

I feel I have the experience and temperament that is required of a judge, as well as the knowledge and common sense necessary to make fair and reasoned decisions.

I am currently the longest serving judge in Canadian County and feel I have the confidence and respect of the attorneys who practice before me as well as the law enforcement and other county and city agencies who I deal with in my judicial capacity.

As the county continues to grow and caseloads continue to get larger, I feel I am the candidate best prepared to deal with the growing pains the court will experience and help ensure that the judiciary is something for the citizens of Canadian County to be proud of.

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Jack D. McCurdy II

Age:  60

Occupation: Special District Judge Canadian County

Spouse: Donna

Children: 4 Daughters

Previous political experience: None

POLLING LOCATIONS

All Canadian County polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for voters. Below is a list of Yukon and Mustang locations

YUKON

200: Surrey Hills Baptist Church

201, 202: Richland Nazarene Church

204: Yukon First Church of the Nazarene

206: Bethel Community Church

208: First United Methodist Church

209, 210: Yukon Fine Arts Auditorium

211: Trinity Baptist Church

214: Town & Country Christian Church

215: Church of Christ

216: The Pavilion at Spanish Cove

217: Covenant Community Church

218: Discovery Church

220: Dale Robertson Center

221 House of Restoration

223: Canadian Hills Nazarene

224: International Pentecostal Assembly Church

225:  Westpointe Chrysler Jeep Dodge

226: Westpoint Christian Church

227 United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd

228: Sara Road Baptist Church

303: Church of Christ West Metro.

MUSTANG

300: Holy Spirit Catholic Church

301: Mustang Community Center

302: Mustang Nazarene Church

304, 399: Chisholm Heights Baptist Church

308, 309, 398: Lakehoma Church of Christ

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