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2018 Oklahoma election guide

As the Nov. 6 general election draws near, The Talon created a voter’s guide with information on races and state questions appearing on the ballot. For students registered to vote outside of the Oklahoma City area, election guides from nearby states are linked at the bottom of this article.

RACES

Governor:

Kevin Stitt (R) vs. Drew Edmondson (D) vs. Chris Powell (L)

Republican and self-described ‘conservative outsider’ Kevin Stitt says he will audit state agencies, balance the budget, improve classroom technology and diversify the economy by recruiting new businesses. Stitt’s business, Gateway Mortgage Company, employs 1,200 people across 41 states.

Democrat and former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson says he will raise teacher salaries, improve statewide access to healthcare and restore the gross production tax on oil and gas to 7 percent. He also promises to close the capital gains deduction loophole on those earning more than $1 million and raise cigarette taxes by 50 cents.

Libertarian Chris Powell supports lowering the incarceration rate for nonviolent offenders, balancing the state budget and increasing school choice options. Powell works for the Oklahoma City Police Department’s evidence management unit.

Lieutenant Governor:

Anastasia Pittman (D) vs. Matt Pinnell (R) vs. Ivan Holmes (I)

Democrat and current State Senator Anastasia Pittman says she wants to bring businesses to Oklahoma and improve education, which she says is the “key” to economic development. Pittman has 12 years of experience as a state representative and senator.

Former Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell supports introducing STEM programs into state elementary schools, raising the number of foster families and improving budget accountability through regular audits.

Independent Ivan Holmes has no campaign page listing his stances on issues.

Attorney General:

Mike Hunter (R) vs. Mark Myles (D)

If re-elected, republican incumbent Mike Hunter says he will promote religious freedom, crack down on opioid abuse and reduce business fraud. He is in favor of the death penalty.

Democrat Mark Myles, a private attorney who practices in the Oklahoma City area, says he will lower the nonviolent prison population, increase drug treatment programs and hold police officers accountable for unprofessional behavior. Myles supports the death penalty, but only in extreme cases.

Superintendent of Public Instruction:

Joy Hofmeister (R) vs. John Cox (D) vs. Larry Huff (I)

Republican incumbent Joy Hofmeister says her work improving educational rigor, raising teacher salaries and reducing excessive standardized testing warrants re-election.

Democrat John Cox, current superintendent of Peggs Public Schools and president of the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators, supports increasing curriculum flexibility and giving more control to local school boards.

Larry Huff, a retired teacher and former director of Oklahoma’s gifted and talented program, says he wants to reform the Oklahoma education system by making it more teacher-driven and student-focused.

U.S. Representative, District 4:

Tom Cole (R) vs. Mary Brannon (D) vs. Ruby Peters (I)

An incumbent since 2003, Republican Tom Cole supports implementing strong immigration laws, reducing taxes and lowering the national budget. He describes himself as strongly anti-abortion and pro-veteran.

Former teacher and school counselor Democrat Mary Brannon says she will protect Medicaid and Medicare, raise education funding and improve transparency within government if elected.

U.S. Representative, District 5:

Steve Russell (R) vs. Kendra Horn (D)

An incumbent since 2015, Republican Steve Russell says he is  ‘wasteful’ government spending, and supports reforming national health care and immigration laws.

Democratic challenger Kendra Horn describes herself as a “common sense leader” who will increase women’s pay, strengthen gun background checks and improve rural economic development. Before running for congress, Horn ran two nonprofit organizations and worked in the aerospace industry.

STATE QUESTIONS

State Question 793:

This measure would allow chain optometry clinics to practice within retail establishments such as Walmart and Target.

Several optometrists practicing in Oklahoma  against Question 793, saying patient care would take a back seat to corporate sales goals and profits.

Supporters of Question 793 say it would improve consumer choice, reduce costs and give more people access to eye care.

Oklahoma is one of three states in the U.S. who do not allow optometrists to practice within retail establishments.

State Question 794:

State Question 794 would grant crime victims additional rights in the judicial process.

Also known as Marsy’s Law, victims would be notified about their case’s court proceedings, have the right to testify at most hearings and have access to full and timely restitution. They would also be allowed to speak with their case’s prosecutor upon request.

Supporters say Question 794 would give victims more say in plea bargaining agreements and increase transparency.

Opponents say the implementation of the measure would be expensive, with more attorneys and clerical workers required to handle the increased workload. They also say the defendant’s right to a fair trial may be compromised by victims testifying at every stage of the judicial process.

State Question 798:

This measure would put the governor and lieutenant governor on the same ballot beginning in 2026.

Supporters say Question 798 would cause governors and lieutenant governors to work more closely together and reduce the risk of the two parties working against each other’s interests. They also say voters would become more informed of lieutenant gubernatorial candidates.

Opponents say the measure would increase the governor’s power while taking away power from voters. They also say if a governor were to be impeached, it would be ideal to replace them with a person further removed from their administration.

Oklahoma is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor.

State Question 800:

If approved by voters, State Question 800 would amend the Oklahoma State Constitution to create the “Oklahoma Vision Fund.”

Five percent of gross production tax revenue from oil and gas would be deposited into the Oklahoma Vision Fund. The fund’s money would be used to supplement the Oklahoma state budget in low oil production years.

Supporters say the state legislature cannot rely on oil and gas production increasing every year, and this is a step to ensure a long-term balanced budget.

Opponents say the current Revenue Stabilization Fund is sufficient to ensure a balanced budget every year. They also question a provision of the bill allowing five percent of the fund’s money to be used for county and local debt payments.

State Question 801:

This measure would allow local property tax dollars to be used to fund school district operations and construction. Currently, districts are required to allocate these dollars toward a building fund, which covers maintenance and repair costs.

Supporters say Question 801 would increase district competition by allowing low budget school districts to attract teachers with higher salaries and lower class sizes.

Opponents say lifting this restriction would place more burden on the state legislature to pay teacher salaries and cause districts to ignore buildings needing repairs.

Out-of-state election guides

Texas-Dallas area

Texas-Houston area

Texas-San Antonio area

Arkansas

Kansas-Wichita

New Mexico

Colorado-Denver

Colorado-Colorado Springs

Missouri-Kansas City

Missouri-St. Louis

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