By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Garfield County and area voters will go to the polls Tuesday to elect state and regional candidates and make decisions affecting the future of Oklahoma.
Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. County residents may still participate in early voting 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at Garfield County Election Board, 903 Failing.
Garfield County voters will cast ballots in the presidential race between Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Obama and Biden are the incumbents.
In the congressional race for 3rd District House of Representatives, incumbent Republican Frank Lucas faces Democrat Timothy Ray Murray and Independent William M. Sanders.
Lucas currently is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, the first Oklahoman to achieve that position.
“I’m the guy who gets to be chairman ... writing the farm bill that is trying to salvage what is critically important to rural America,” Lucas said. “In a representative democracy, we are a huge land mass, but our percentage of the vote is getting smaller every day as the rest of the country grows.”
Most of the spending in the farm bill — 80 percent — is for nutrition programs, the other 20 percent goes to agriculture, he said.
Murray said many Republican beliefs for the country are similar to his: a strong military, supportive government for the people, lower government spending and fair taxes.
However, he said congressional Republicans’ beliefs are different than those of most of their constituents. He said GOP lawmakers are bent on undermining the nation’s foundations of education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which are the nation’s safety net.
Murray said the funding problems with Social Security and Medicare should not be solved by lowering benefits or the structure of what he described as “great foundations of the people.” He said the financial conditions of Social Security and Medicare can be restored to make them financially viable in the future.
Sanders wants to invest in alternative energy. By gaining energy independence, the country can regain its edge in a competitive marketplace, he said. To do that, the country needs to use its natural gas, wind and solar power resources.
Discussing the economy, Sanders said bad behavior should not be rewarded.
“Our current financial organizations — in particular, Wall Street financial institutions — are essentially being subsidized by the taxpayer through artificial interest rates,” he said. “Meanwhile, those same institutions have yet to answer for potential criminal actions and other abuses, such as the current housing crisis.”
He accused Lucas of opposing company shareholders having any say on their executives’ salaries and compensation. Sanders said the nation should focus as much attention on Main Street, helping communities keep their dollars and compete in a legitimate capitalist society, and not what he calls “crony capitalism.”
Also on the ballot is judicial retention for Oklahoma Supreme Court justices: District 3, Norma D. Gurich; District 4, Yvonne Kauger; District 7, James E. Edmondson; and District 8, Douglas L. Combs; Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals justices: District 1, Clancy Smith; District 4, Arlene Johnson; and District 5 David B. Lewis; and Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals justices: District 3, Office 1, P. Thomas Thornbrugh; District 4, Office 1, William C. Hetherington; District 4, Office 1, Kenneth L. Buettner; District 5, Office 2, Robert Bobby Bell; and District 6, Office 1, E. Bay Mitchell.
Also, six state questions are on the ballot: SQ 758, regarding lowering the cap on ad valorem taxes from 5 percent to 3 percent; SQ 759, regarding affirmative action in state hiring; SQ 762, which would remove the governor from the parole process of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board for those convicted of nonviolent offenses; SQ 764, which would provide a bond fund for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to act as a reserve fund for certain water resource and sewage treatment funding programs; SQ 765, which would abolish Oklahoma Department of Human Services and Oklahoma Commission on Human Services and the position of director of Human Services. The Legislature would retain power to adopt legislation for those purposes; and SQ 766 would abolish ad valorem taxes on “intangible” property.
Area elections include a sheriff election in Kingfisher County. The general election will determine whether incumbent sheriff Dennis Banther is re-elected or opponent Michael Jones wins the office. Banther has spent the past 17 years working for the sheriff’s office and has been sheriff eight years.
Jones is a reserve police officer in Hennessey. He also has experience as a reserve officer in Canton and Okeene.
In the Kingfisher County Court Clerk race, two candidates, Lisa Benson and Lisa Markus, are running for the seat left by retiring Yvonne Dow.
Benson lives in Dover and is a lifelong resident of Kingfisher County. She has worked in the district attorney’s office since 2007, and is director of the supervision and restitution program.
Markus has lived in Kingfisher County for 32 years with her husband, Joe, and has worked in the county court clerk’s office for 27 years, the past 12 a first deputy.
Two men face off in the District 27 State Senate race: Bryce Marlatt and Tommy Nicholson. The district encompasses much of northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle, covering more than 12,000 square miles. The counties in District 27 include Major, Woods, Dewey, Ellis, Woodward, Harper, Beaver, Cimarron and Texas.
Marlatt is a resident of Woodward and has represented the district since he was elected in 2008. Nicholson, of Mooreland, is making his first run for public office.
Nicholson was born in Milwaukee, Wis., and was adopted by a family in Waynoka. He grew up working on a farm and ranch and left school during his junior year of high school in 1968 to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served 18 months in Vietnam and was awarded two Bronze Stars. He served six years in the Marines, and transitioned to the U.S. Army, where he served until 1997, accumulating 27 years of military service.
Margaret Parman and Tony Almauger are candidates for Blaine County sheriff. Parman, Blaine County undersheriff, has spent 11 years with the sheriff’s department, but her law enforcement career goes back to 1975, when she worked for Chickasha Police Department.
Almauger, the Democratic candidate, has been assistant police chief in Watonga for the past three years. He has worked 18 years for the police department. Four years ago, Almauger ran for Blaine County sheriff. The race ended in a tie with the current sheriff, Rick Ainsworth. Ainsworth’s name was subsequently drawn from the hat.
Woodward County residents will choose either incumbent Gary Stanley or challenger Joe Adams for sheriff.
Stanley points to his accomplishments as sheriff the past four years. When elected, the county jail had a capacity of 41 inmates and had been informed by the jail inspector it was in violation of all state jail standards. It was deemed the second-most-dangerous jail in the state for jail staff. The county could have been fined and the jail possibly closed if those problems were not eliminated. After his election, Woodward County voters approved a new 160-bed jail, which was a major focus of his first term. Stanley believes his 35-years in law enforcement makes him the best candidate.
Adams, the Democratic challenger, wants to establish a training program, the goal of which is to keep deputies and personnel at a top performance level and ensure extra hours and credits are caught up. He also wants to start a program for parents and children on the dangers of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, child abduction, and human trafficking and to introduce a drug program, including interdiction with a drug dog.
The Woodward County Commissioners race features a contest between two longtime county residents for the District 2 race. Bill Phillips has owned and operated a construction business for 35 years and understands how to deal with rules and regulations and all types of construction. He said he will make better decisions regarding the ongoing renovation of the Woodward County Fairgrounds.
Randy Johnson said he always is accountable for his decisions and actions. He has 20 years of county experience, working as a District 2 receiving officer and a District 2 inventory officer. He understands the operation of all county equipment and has spent many hours fighting wildfires and on safety training.
Johnson said his knowledge of road and bridge construction makes him the best candidate for the job.