Why are you the most qualified candidate for the position you seek?
Brooks — First and foremost I am a Christian and man of sincere faith. Our Forefathers designed this nation and its government around two key assumptions: a highly educated voting populace and a society grounded in a moral foundation based on the Bible. We have drifted off course with respect to both key tenets and need now, more than ever, men and women of faith to step forward and serve. I have been blessed with many great opportunities in life, from my rural upbringing, my education, my service in the Bush White House, the Pentagon and in uniform as a combat veteran. As a state and nation, we face many critical decisions in the coming years and we need men and women of faith, integrity and experience to safeguard our rights and freedoms. I have spent a lifetime developing and training in each of these areas and would now like to put them to work for you, right here at home.
Davenport — There is no other candidate in this race that has run a successful small business. I understand business principles and have strong communication skills. I also have what State Auditor Gary Jones calls ‘rare courage.’ I don’t just go along to get along.
Magar — I am not running for State Senate because I need a job, I’m not looking for a little extra income in my retirement years, and I have no intention of becoming a career politician. I am running for State Senate because I love Oklahoma, and because I have a vision for helping make Oklahoma even better tomorrow, than she is today. I did not move here, and I did not just return to the state a few months ago, to begin my political career. I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and I have always lived here. I was educated in Oklahoma’s public educations system, I have been gainfully employed in Oklahoma’s private sector for all my adult life, and I have raised my family here. I am a logical thinker, and I am willing to stand against the establishment.
Southard — A lifetime of service to my nation, with 29 years of active, military service that give me strong leadership skills and maturity for making critical decisions facing our district and state. I have actual experience in economic and workforce development, education, transportation and working with the elderly that none of the other candidates have.
What – if any – liabilities must you overcome to best represent Duncan and Stephens County?
Davenport — I am not perfect, but no one is, but I do not know of any liabilities I have to overcome to be a good State Senator.
Magar — None.
Southard — I am prepared to represent and serve not only Duncan and Stephens County, but the entirety of Senate District 43 effective immediately. I have been very active in federal, state and local projects impacting our region over the past several years; I am ready to serve and I see no liabilities.
Brooks — Stephens County and its various cities and towns are proud entities with a rich history, and a strong sense of community. While I am not from Stephens County itself, I am the only candidate who was born and raised in Senate District 43. We are fortunate to now be part of a completely rural district whose economic mainstays are agriculture, oil and gas.
Growing up on a small ranch just a few miles north of Stephens County in McClain County, my formative years were spent tending cattle, hauling hay, and helping in my grandfather’s oilfield equipment repair shop. Senate District 43 needs someone who can best represent all of its constituents from the South Canadian river to the southern border of Stephens County, and everyone in between.
How will you maintain contact, understand local issues and best represent the views of residents in Duncan and Stephens County?
Magar — I intend to visit Duncan and the other communities throughout District 43 on a regular basis, and to attend community meetings and events.
I am always happy to meet with citizens individually, or in a group setting. I will always be available to voters via phone, mail, and email; and I will encourage my constituents to contact me with any questions, concerns, or ideas for improvement. I will also maintain subscriptions to newspapers throughout the district.
Southard — I am already very tied-in with city and county governmental entities, our public schools, technology centers, and higher education systems and with our community health care, manufacturing and area businesses through my economic and workforce development work. I’m a member of our Chamber and will use personal contact and Town Hall meetings to stay abreast of issues as they arise.
Brooks — Oklahoma is fortunate to have a part-time legislature that is only in session for around 4 months per year. That leaves a great deal of time for legislators to be in their districts. Like the many weeks I’ve spent in Stephens County during this campaign, knocking on voters’ doors and meeting the community, as your Senator, I will be a vigilant presence at local governmental meetings, civic events, and community gatherings. I will hold frequent town hall meetings in the communities across the district, in session and out of session. My door will also always be open for citizens to share concerns, ideals and ask questions.
Davenport — I will be available to my constituents. I have a track record of working with people and interacting with people in my business. I will show up for events and listen to the people in my district.
Will you maintain an office in Stephens County? Will you provide direct telephone or electronic access?
Southard — Yes, I will maintain an office in Stephens County, as well as at the Capitol. I will have direct telephone and email access and will always be accessible in person.
Brooks — Yes, the constituents of Stephens County, and all of Senate District 43, will have readily available access to my email, web-site and phone number, just as they do now, in addition to the opportunity to gather and share ideas during our frequent town hall meetings.
Davenport — The State Senate doesn’t provide funding for local offices, but I will be available to the people in my district — day or night — by phone or email. They can also come by my business and talk with me. I am the only candidate in this race that has published their cell phone number on all my campaign materials. I want to know what people think about an issue and I want to talk to them when they have concerns.
Magar — I will not be maintaining local offices throughout the district. I will always be available to District 43 citizens, via phone, mail, and email.
If elected, is there a core group or inner circle of advisors, individuals, counselors, groups or organizations on whom you will rely for information and support? If yes, please list.
Brooks — As a veteran of both Washington, D.C. and the military, I learned early on to cast the net for advisers far and wide. I will earnestly seek out the opinions of professionals, subject matter experts, academics, business and civic leaders, as well as members of the community willing to assist me in addressing the issues.
Davenport — I will represent the people of the district. I am not a person who will be influenced by a special interest group. I am willing to listen to anyone, but ultimately the buck must stop with me. I think we have too many lobbyists and unofficial advisors in government now. I will update the people in my district periodically by holding town hall meetings to give them a chance to ask questions and to insure I am getting the proper feedback from my district.
Magar — The list of potential issues is too broad to be relying upon a small, set group of advisers. I will rely on input from affected constituents. E.g., if the issue is law enforcement, I will seek input from the County Sheriff and local police officials; if the issue is education, I will seek input from educators and parents.
Southard — Yes, the 78,000 citizens of Senate District 43. I will always use experts in the field to help solve difficult and complex issues.
What does Duncan and Stephens County need to become an even better place to live and to work? How can you help make that possible?
Davenport — I love Stephens County and Duncan. It’s where I live and I plan to stay here until I die, but we need economical development throughout the district if we expect to grow. We need to create an environment where businesses can grow and expand. We want to create an environment where out of state businesses are attracted to the area. As a State Senator, I believe one issue we must address is workers comp reform. We have high premiums and low injured workers payouts because we still use the court system to settle disputes. We need to go to an administrative system like 48 other states use.
Magar — Duncan already does a great job in the arena of community activities. But as in all things, 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work. We need to actively seek out and recruit the next generation of community volunteers.
We need to continue recruiting new business to the area. I will encourage business development by supporting business friendly legislation.
We need to continue improving our schools every day. I will support local control of schools, better pay for better teachers, and no unfunded state mandates.
Southard — I believe that Duncan and Stephens County is already a wonderful place to live and work. The role of state government is to create positive laws and policies that do not hamper its state communities, so that those communities can move forward.
Brooks — Like all of Oklahoma, the entire district will benefit from economic stimulus prompted by curtailing oppressive regulation that stifles small business, becoming a state more attractive to outside businesses through a more competitive corporate tax structure and workers compensation reform, and a focus on bettering our public education system.
What is your most important focal point related to the future of the district you seek to represent?
Magar — Oklahoma is consistently near the top of the list, when it comes to divorce rate and single-parent households. I believe the most important thing we can do for District 43 and for Oklahoma is to strengthen our families. Numerous studies provide evidence that children from intact families are significantly more likely to enjoy a higher standard of living, to do better in school, to avoid the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, and to be law abiding citizens. Businesses looking to relocate operations also look favorably upon states with better familial and social standings. I believe every piece of legislation we consider, should be measured against how it will affect our families.
Southard — Our new district is truly rural and gives us tremendous opportunities to impact legislation in the rural/urban divide in business and industry sustainment and job creation, while also fostering our traditional conservative Oklahoman values.
Brooks — A combination of working to reform Oklahoma’s regulatory system in order to promote the development and growth of small business here at home; making Oklahoma more attractive to outside businesses and more competitive with neighboring states in incentivizing companies to move here; reforming our public education system; and taking proactive steps to rebuff intrusive, unconstitutional federal encroachment on our state’s rights through programs like Obamacare and No Child Left Behind.
Davenport — This district is composed of all of McClain county, about 60 percent of Stephens County and parts of Grady and Garvin County. The challenges in the district vary from community to community, but the focal point for the future must be economical development and job growth.
As Oklahoma becomes a more urban state with decisions determined by legislators and lobbyists from metropolitan areas, how will you make certain rural voices like those in Duncan and Stephens County are heard?
Southard — This key and crucial point is real understanding of how our rural district functions economically and I do. Strong leadership and the collaboration of our economic powers allow us a prominent seat at the table within the rural legislative caucus.
Brooks — As your Senator representing our rural district, and as one who has spent a lifetime involved in the fields of agriculture and energy in one way or another, I will make sure the concerns and unique needs of this critically important demographic are heard and considered in Oklahoma City. The urban areas of Oklahoma provide great value to our state, but it is on the backs of the farmers, ranchers, oilmen and small business owners that our state succeeds or fails.
Davenport — Rural Oklahoma does have different challenges than urban Oklahoma. I will represent the people and interests in my district. Lobbyists and special interests will not be able to influence me. I have the courage to stand up for the taxpayers in my district. I’ve proven it and will do it at the Capitol.
Magar — District 43 is largely rural, Duncan being its largest city. I was raised in rural southwest Oklahoma, I live in an unincorporated part of the district, and I already have a mostly rural mindset. Maintaining contact with District 43 constituents will be the key.
Education seems to be the answer to every question related to Oklahoma’s future. How will you ensure schools in Duncan and Stephens County are properly funded, teachers are properly challenged and rewarded for excellence in the classroom and students are given opportunities to achieve their potential?
Brooks — Education in Oklahoma is a critical piece of our society, meeting our potential, and moving into a brighter future. It is a foundational block in developing our own workforce, attracting outside business, and preparing our children to meet the challenges of an ever more competitive marketplace. We must seek efficiencies in the education system, beginning with its system of administration and work hard to get more education dollars into the classroom. Our children need more books, science equipment, computers and instruments of technology to be competitive. Our teachers need the flexibility to adjust and adapt to reach their children – not be shackled to the strictures of only teaching to tests developed in Washington, D.C. Finally, we must do better at compensating our educational professionals in a way that is competitive with schools across the country and in a way that shows that we as a community value their service and critical role in society.
Davenport — Currently common education is spending more than half the money they get from the legislature for non-classroom related activity. We are not getting the money into the classroom where it will make a difference in educating our children. I believe parents should have the option to homeschool if they want, send their children to a private school and government should not impede that. I support Superintendent Baressi’s idea to grade schools on an A-F scale like teachers do students.
Parents have the right to know if their child’s school measures up.
Magar — The best thing we can do for school funding is to grow the tax base. Business friendly policies will increase area business and population. I support local control of schools, and no unfunded state mandates. I believe we should honor all commitments we have made to our teachers in the area of National Board certification bonuses, and I support better pay for better teachers.
Southard — Education directly impacts Oklahoma’s future. Local level education represents a top priority in the economic and workforce development equation. Oklahoma teachers’ salaries are some of the lowest in the nation and our spending per pupil in 46th in the nation. We must arrest this plight; I will not turn my back on the public school system. Our children are our legacy, our greatest resource.
The creation of new jobs, the recruitment of new industry and the support of existing industry remains a priority for Duncan and Stephens County. How can you help in each of those important areas?
Davenport — There are four Economical Development organizations in SD #43, I will work with them to recruit business to the state. I will also work with existing businesses and listen to their concerns and suggestions on how I can help them expand their businesses.
As I mentioned, workers comp is a big issue and until we get it reformed, Oklahoma will have a difficult time convincing businesses to relocate here. It’s an issue that is holding us back and with my insurance background, I would be an asset and resource in the Senate.
Magar — I will work for meaningful, responsible workers comp reform. I will support responsible tax and incentive programs that help create a business-friendly environment. I will work to help eliminate over-the-top government imposed regulations that are strangling the financial life out of our businesses.
Southard — Your legislator’s job is to create positive state policies that spur growth. It is important the economic development tools remain in place and be enhanced to assist companies looking to expand, relocate and invest capital resources in our area.
Brooks — Oklahoma is doing rather well in terms of our economy, especially when compared to the other states of the union. Recent statistics have Oklahoma’s unemployment rate at 4.8 percent - more than 3 percent below the national average. State revenue is up nearly 10 percent from this time last year, indicating Oklahomans are making more and spending more all across the state.
Agriculture revenues are doing amazingly well, especially considering last year’s drought conditions. The future here at home is looking bright, but we must maintain vigilance and continue striving to better ourselves. We still maintain a set of regulations that stifle the development and growth of our small businesses.
We are continually out-marketed and out-incentivized by neighboring states in the recruitment of new business to Oklahoma due to our unfriendly corporate tax structure, our workers compensation system, and our public education system that continues to rank near the bottom of the nation. Reforming and improving in each of these key categories is the next step in ensuring Oklahoma’s economic growth continues and hastens.
Do you favor a reduction in or elimination of the state income tax? Why or why not? If yes, what methods do you recommend for maintaining services that could be reduced or eliminated by the loss of revenue?
Magar — I would favor the reduction or elimination of the state income tax if it is done in a responsible manner. Businesses looking to relocate, tend to look favorably upon states with no income tax; but moving taxes from one source to another, is just playing a shell game that will help some and hurt others. We need to avoid playing that game, and match tax cuts with spending cuts. We need to cut waste and duplication of services in state government.
Southard — Yes; however, reduction of state income tax cannot be done by raising other taxes, such as ad valorum or corporate taxes nor should we create new fees for services. This is a shell game and is unacceptable.
Identification and elimination of waste and redundancies in government, while maintaining legitimate and necessary services in concert with careful and prudent tax reductions are the correct strategies.
Brooks — I am always in favor of lowering taxes when it makes sense, and does not negatively impact core government services. At this time, I have seen no studies or reports that convince me that Oklahoma should eliminate the personal income tax, however.
This past legislative session, a half percent reduction in the state income tax was attempted, which would have amounted to tens of millions of dollars in state revenue loss. Outright elimination would mean the loss of almost a billion dollars.
The state funds generated by this tax are critical to the continuation of services we all want and need, to include public safety, education, transportation and providing for those in legitimate need. If eliminated, that money will have to come from somewhere else. The options include corporate taxes hikes, property tax hikes and/or sales tax hikes. A raise in any of these will stifle business development, recruitment and quality of life for Oklahomans across the board. I believe we should always be looking for efficiencies in government and opportunities to reduce the tax burden on Oklahomans, but not at the cost of forward economic progress, the public good or personal property owners.
Davenport — I know of no one who opposes eliminating a tax. Oklahoma’s income tax is another issue that is holding us back. Texas does not have a state income tax. I would support an elimination of the state income tax, but at the same time we should be cutting Oklahoma government at the same rate the revenue is declining. We need to streamline Oklahoma government. We have the highest number of state employees in the country per capita.
The largest employer in the state of Oklahoma is the state of Oklahoma. We need to make sure we balance the loss of revenue with a plan to reduce the size of Oklahoma state government.
Do you support state incentives for economic development? If so, what requirements would be necessary?
Southard — Yes, with tight control measures that focus on capital investment, level of wages and the number of jobs created. These measures ensure that job creation impacts the local area with positive wealth creation and does not drain the economy with low paying jobs.
Brooks — I do. They are a critical piece in competing effectively against the states surrounding us as we seek to entice outside businesses to move to Oklahoma. Reforming of Oklahoma’s ‘one size fits all’ workers compensation system and promoting incentives with a track record of success, while avoiding those that have proven ineffective, or are utilized by only a small, select group, are steps toward reaching our goals.
Davenport — The recent legislature couldn’t agree on which tax credits or incentives were being abused. I support tax credits if they produce new jobs in our state. I believe the State Auditor should be given the authority to audit those organizations and businesses that are getting tax credits to insure the state is not being cheated. Currently, he doesn’t have that authority. I think the Quality Jobs program has been an effective tool to recruit business to Oklahoma and should be retained, but the transferable tax credits are something that needs to be looked at.
Magar — Oklahoma is competing with other states for business, and we have to compete on a level playing field. Therefore as a general rule, I would support tax and incentive programs that create a business-friendly environment. These programs help businesses establish operations in Oklahoma, but the bottom line purpose is to help Oklahoma grow and to broaden the tax base. Any such proposed program must be shown to be economically net-positive for the state.
Retail development remains a challenge for Duncan and Stephens County. What ideas do you have for addressing that problem? How can you help in attracting more businesses and services?
Brooks — Generally speaking, making Oklahoma more pro-business through eliminating oppressive regulation that stifles small business, reforming our corporate tax structure and workers compensation system, and earnestly seeking to enhance our public education system are the key parts of the overall solution. Specifically, NOT inserting more state oversight and regulation on local counties and municipalities is the other half of the solution. Local citizens have a wonderful track record in Oklahoma of electing competent, forward-thinking local officials. As your Senator, I will strive to be a partner in the local communities, but not intrude on local, municipal/county issues that fall outside of my legislative lane.
Davenport — Retail stores build where people are. That’s why you see lots of stores in urban areas. We are a rural area and that presents a challenge for retailers. I believe we could do a better job of marketing rural Oklahoma. I would like to see some of the unique retailers in Duncan and Stephens County form a coalition similar to what the Made in Oklahoma food companies have done. They could market their uniqueness and expand their marketing area. The long term solution to getting more retail in Duncan and Stephens County is economical development.
Magar — In a free market, retail is successful where people have money to spend. To increase disposable income, we need more jobs, and less welfare for the able-bodied. Advancing policies that reward work and job creation is the best way to increase employment and to raise wages. These business-friendly policies also will help retail businesses gain a foothold for long- term growth.
Southard — I am aware of a Gap Analysis study being undertaken at this time in our area. Once completed, our community must help in the recruitment process and most importantly, our community must support these retailers if they choose to move here. I will make myself available to meet with these recruiters and stay engaged in the process.
Halliburton has been an essential component of Duncan and Stephens County for decades? Do you know its current leadership? How can we strengthen our relationship? Are there ways we should express our commitment and appreciation for its value to our area?
Davenport — Halliburton Services has been a great supporter of the area. They are the largest employer and are critical for our local economy. Scores of the Halliburton Duncan team are clients of mine. I would like to see our area honor Halliburton and the local energy companies every year. We have several local oil and gas companies who, along with Halliburton, are doing a great job of insuring Americans have fuel.
Magar — Halliburton is an outstanding community partner. The best thing we can do for Halliburton is to maintain a business-friendly environment, keeping the government out of the way so Halliburton can continue to be profitable and increase their presence in the area. I look forward to meeting Halliburton's current and future leadership team members.
Southard — I know employees at all levels at Halliburton and have worked in manufacturing oriented economic and workforce development in support of their future needs. Strong and available leadership must be in place to foster growth with not only our largest employer, but will all employers in the district. We can best express our commitment and appreciation by providing the best possible community for them to live and educate their children in.
Brooks — Expressions of appreciation for those who are pillars of any community are always appropriate. At the state level, the best way to show our appreciation for the value that large companies who employ many Oklahomans bring to our state is to treat them fairly, develop and maintain a system of regulation and taxation that is both fair and unobtrusive, and provide a better education for our children so that they can be competitive in getting jobs with these companies well into the future.
Is there a message you would like to share with readers of The Banner and residents of the district?
Magar — Senate District 43 consists of all, or parts of, Garvin, Grady, McClain, and Stephens Counties. If elected State Senator, I will be a senator for all of District 43. I intend to have an open door and an open phone line for all my constituents, regardless of their geographic locations within the district; and I look forward to visiting the communities within the district on a regular basis.
Over the past several months, my family and I have greatly enjoyed meeting and visiting with many new friends in Duncan and in the surrounding areas of Stephens County. We have found the people here to be exceptionally friendly, and genuinely interested in the important issues facing District 43 and our state. I am confident the voters will see that my background, work ethic and willingness to listen, make me the candidate best prepared to be a strong advocate for the needs and interests of the people throughout District 43.
I look forward to developing and maintaining strong working partnerships with local community leaders and officials throughout the district, as we work together to meet needs and to resolve any issues that may arise.
Southard — I am honored to have received so much open support from the citizens of Duncan, Stephens County and all over Senate District 43. I love this community, our state and our great nation.
I will work day and night to serve you and commit myself totally that service. I ask for your vote on the 26th of June.
Brooks — Our nation and our state, now more than ever, need men and women of faith, who are principled, experienced and knowledgeable to serve at all levels of our government. I have been blessed with the opportunities to serve our nation from the halls of the Bush White House, to the Pentagon, to the battlefields of Afghanistan; literally across the country and around the world. I will bring to Oklahoma City and the office of Senator the unique vantage point of a rural Oklahoman with global experience. I would count it an honor to represent you in the State Senate and I ask for your consideration as you cast your ballot this Tuesday.
Davenport — I have been endorsed by Senator Anthony Sykes. Senator Sykes has represented about 50 percent of this new district, including Stephens County and has done an outstanding job. He knows I have the skill set and the courage to do the job. My only special interest will be the citizens of District 43. I would appreciate your vote on Tuesday.
Why are you the most qualified candidate for the position you seek?
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