With so many candidates on stage, there wasn’t a lot of time to ramble.
And for the most part, the Nov. 6 hopefuls who spoke at a forum Tuesday night at the Velma-Alma High School Auditorium steered clear of directly criticizing their opponents – at least by name.
About 100 people attended the forum, the first of three being hosted by the Duncan Area Chamber of Commerce. The next is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in Territory Hall of the Stephens County Fairgrounds, with a third set for 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at Empire School cafeteria.
Candidates used the first forum to tell prospective voters why they were running and what they wanted to accomplish if elected. Here are some highlights:
Democrat Mike Fullerton of Newcastle said he had family “strung out from Comanche all the way to Newcastle” in the district, and among his top priorities were education and infrastructure.
He said the state had $575 million in its Rainy Day Fund and some of the money should be invested in schools.
“We’ve got a seat that is broken right here and a ceiling tile that is leaking up there,” Fullerton said, pointing around the auditorium. “It’s time we fixed these things before somebody gets hurt.”
He said he opposed elimination of the state income tax.
Republican Corey Brooks of Washington, Okla., said he was opposed to outright elimination of the state income tax because it likely would mean increases in corporate taxes or property taxes.
He said Oklahoma was on the right track when it came to low unemployment, revenue collections and Rainy Day reserves, and he was not running “to rage against the machine” but rather to join a team in the Legislature.
“We are on a path to greatness,” he said. “I want you to leave here knowing Oklahoma is a great place to live and work.”
Stephens County Sheriff:
Republican Sheriff Wayne McKinney said he was running for re-election based on his record, one that included putting more criminals in jail and solving violent crimes.
“There hasn’t been a violent crime in this county … that we haven’t solved and that includes one that occurred in this little town,” he said.
He was referring the killing of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma this past July. A suspect in the crime is in jail awaiting a preliminary hearing.
Democrat Jimmy Williams, police chief in Marlow, said he would seek greater cooperation between the sheriff’s department and other agencies and enhancing relations with the public.
“They may be calling because they have a lost dog or cat” or because of a major crime, he said, “In each, it is our job to go out there and do the very best we can.”
Incumbent Democrat Todd Churchman of Empire said he has helped oversee a balanced county budget and road work that included 22 new bridges in the district during his first term and 170 miles of resurfacing. He said his background in the private paving business was a plus.
“I came in with a commercial way of looking at things, where time is money,” he said. “The faster we can get a project done the faster we can move to the next one.”
Republican Lonnie Estes of Empire said he would be very accessible and a good steward of taxpayer money, and would seek to work well with other county officials.
“It won’t be a smooth-running machine if all the time they are butting heads instead of having a dialogue,” he said
Democrat Stewart Meyer of Chickasha said he has spent 36 years in law enforcement, most of them as a state trooper, and would concentrate on enhancing core government services such as education and public safety.
He said he did not favor elimination of state income taxes.
“I can assure you if you take away income taxes, our schools are going to be in a lot worse shape than they are now,” he said.
Republican Scott Biggs of Chickasha did not attend.
Democrat Donna Bebo of Fletcher said she wanted to bring more green energy jobs to Oklahoma and cut the federal budget without hurting Social Security or Medicare. She said she would not be a career politician.
“We have a Capitol full of them and we need to stop the partisan bickering,” she said,
Independent RJ Harris of Norman noted that he ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Moore in 2010 and is now running as in independent whose platform mirrors that of Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
He said he feels like the Republican Party abandoned him, not the other way around.
“We were promised we would get smaller government, more fiscally responsible government,” he said.
Cole did not attend.
With so many candidates on stage, there wasn’t a lot of time to ramble.
- Local News
County to seek bids for fairgrounds expansion project
Expansion of the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center may get underway as early as this summer.
The Stephens County commissioners, joined by fairgrounds director Mike Anderson, discussed the expansion project during their meeting Monday. The commissioners approved going out for bids to see how much it would cost to build another building the same size as the Expo Arena and to relocate the South Stall Barn south to the outdoor stalls.
Lane suspects back in court Wednesday
The preliminary hearing in the death of Australian native Christopher Lane will continue on Wednesday for three Duncan teenagers charged in the fatal shooting.
The hearing, which began on Feb. 4 but was recessed until Wednesday, will determine if there is sufficient evidence for the cases against the suspects to be taken to trial.
Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and Michael Dewayne Jones, 18 face first-degree murder charges in the Aug. 16, 2013, death of Lane, who shot while jogging in the afternoon at Country Club Road near Twilight Beach.
Vehicle burglars strike seven times
A string of seven car burglaries over the weekend has prompted Duncan police to urge residents to lock up their vehicles and take valuables inside at night.
Four car thefts were reported in Duncan on Sunday and three were reported Saturday, with over $1,000 worth of items and cash stolen from vehicles.
City council to discuss projects, half-cent sales tax
City Manager Jim Frieda hopes to give Duncan City Council members an idea of how much money the city would get from continuation of the city’s half-cent economic development sales tax.
Council members will meet at 5:15 p.m. today in the council chambers at 720 W. Willow.
Infrastructure projects, including street improvements and water conservation efforts, are on the agenda for discussion.
Lt. Gov. Lamb says he’ll look at governorship when Fallin finished
Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a Rebublican from Enid, made his formal announcement for re-election this week and made a campaign swing through Stephens County. He stopped by the Duncan Banner last week for a chat with news editor Steve Olafson. Here’s how it went:
Waurika reshuffles City Hall lineup
With the city manager now on administrative leave, members of the Waurika City Commission wanted someone to steer the ship, and they found that person Monday when Brad Scott was hired as acting city manager.
In addition, following a one-hour executive session, the four members of the commission named City Treasurer Nancy Bluml as assistant city manager.
Waurika City Commissioners reinstate Brown
Chuck Brown was somewhat surprised early last week when the Waurika City Commissioners voted to terminate him from the position of city manager.
Brown was very surprised four days later to learn he had been “un-terminated” and restored to the city manager position.
Awards handed out at livestock show
Winners were announced and students walked away vests and plaques at the end of the week-long 76th annual Stephens County Junior Livestock Show, which ended Friday.
Following the award ceremony, the premium sale began as livestock was auctioned off.
Stephens County Fair Board secretary Kathy Shorter said funds for the sale are gathered through the different clubs in support of the students in the competition.
School boards to meet Monday
Bray-Doyle, Central High and Velma-Alma public schools will meet at their respective superintendents’ offices at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Velma-Alma’s school board will discuss possible re-employment of certified teachers and staff for next school year and possible approval of a senior trip to Medieval Times in May
Today marks beginning of Daylight Savings Time
Daylight Savings Time began in the early hours today as clocks were set forward one hour.
Clocks were skipped ahead from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. and won’t be set back again until Nov. 2 when Daylight Savings Time ends.
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