Carl Newton

CHEROKEE, Okla. — A businessman in the Alfalfa County seat has announced he will run for State House of Representatives District 58 seat.

House District 58 includes Woodward, Alfalfa and Major County.

The seat currently is held by House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview. Hickman terms out in 2016 because of term-limits.

Carl Newton, a Republican from Cherokee, said he wants to run for political office and continue being a public servant.

"I've lived in all four areas of the district for the vast majority of my life." Newton, an optometrist in Cherokee, said. "I was raised in Waynoka, went to school in Mooreland for a while, we have a ranch down in Major County and I've practiced in Cherokee for the last 32 years."

Newton said he wants to run for political office for a majority of reasons.

"I've been caring for people up here, taking care of their eyes for years — the office motto is 'we take care of people, not just people's eyes,'" Newton said. "Northwest Oklahoma is one of the better parts in our nation because we have such good people."

Newton has three issues he said he would like to focus on if elected: state budget, roads and bridges and corrections.

The state faces a possible budget shortfall of $900 million for fiscal year 2017. A current 2016 fiscal year revenue shortfall required state agencies to cut a minimum of 3 percent from its budget.

"I don't see the oil industry, one of the major leading factors of the economy, going to be increasing," Newton said. "The legislature needs to look at everything. We need to look at the part of the budget the legislature doesn't get ahold of."

For fiscal year 2016, the state legislature appropriate $7.1 billion. The total state's budget is about $24 billion. Newton said the legislature should review the budget — tax credits, cuts, and non-legislative controlled funds — as a whole.

With budget cuts, Newton said he wants to ensure roads and bridges continue to receive attention it needs.

"Roads and bridges help this area survive," he said. "With poor roads and bridges, no one wants to come here. We want to keep that strong."

Newton added he would also like to review correctional reform, its institutions and Oklahoma Department of Corrections staffing.

"Our population is 110 to 120 percent population with staffing 50 to 70 percent of what’s needed for that inmate population," he said. "We’re putting more people away than we ever have but the crime rate is not dropping. We need to make sure we’re staying smart. We can’t afford to put away everyone we’re mad at."

Newton said DOC may be able to save money on incarceration and staffing by using newer technology, like GPS tracking ankle bracelets.

"Maybe there is a way to keep a mother back home with her kids and a father back home with his kids while saving tax payers money," he said.

After high school, Newton attended Oklahoma Baptist University for two years before attending Oklahoma State University. Newton graduated from OSU with a bachelor's in biological science. He then attended Oklahoma College of Optometry. He graduated in 1983 and moved to later open an optometry practice in Cherokee.

"I’ve been involved in many of the areas that I’m talking about so I have some background and history to work with," he said. "But I don’t want to stay in the past, I think we need to keep moving forward."

Political candidates must file for office between April 13 and April 15 for the Nov. 8 general election.

The primary election is June 28.

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Summars is area reporter for the News & Eagle. She can be reached at esummars@enidnews.com.

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