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.
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