T H U R S DAY, N OV E M B E R 1, 2 012
ELECTION 2012 Whoâ€™s your dog in this race? The Daily breaks out what you need to know for Tuesdayâ€™s general elections PAGES 6-7
The Daily columnists weigh in on the importance of voting PAGE
The Daily editorial board endorses Obama for president PAGE
The Daily profiles key candidates for local elections in the Oklahoma House PAGES
The Daily profiles key candidates for local elections in the Oklahoma Senate PAGES
• Thursday, November 1, 2012
House District 20
northern-most and eastern-most parts of McClain County; south of State Highway 9 and east of Interstate 35 in Cleveland County (not including Noble area); southern-most part of Pottawatomie County; northeastern-most corner of Garvin County
Matt Branstetter » Democrat
Bob Cleveland » Republican
Businessman pursuing longtime love: politics
Candidate runs on ‘true conservative leadership’
Branstetter emphasizes education to revive America
Small-town mayor wants politics out of progress’ way
Education: Capitol Hill High School (OKC)
For The Oklahoma Daily
Hometown: Noble Education: Holds two degrees from OU Occupation:
Investment adviser Although he can name all of the U.S. Presidents in order and John F. Kennedy was his childhood idol, Matt Branstetter just now is launching his political career. After earning a business degree from Branstetter, Democratic candidate for Oklahoma House District 20, is an OU in 1982, Branstetter quickly discovered investment firm owner, 27-year resident that the world of business is not a merciful of Noble, husband and father of three. He one, he said, so he pursued a second degree in his lifelong interest: politics. now also is a politician. However, the business world ushered Branstetter said he is seeking ideas to him in once more. He responded to an solve Oklahoma’s education problem. “I’m tired of being 48th, 49th and 50th,” ad in the paper and began a career as an investment adviser. he said, lamenting the “If a Republican has an More than 20 years state’s national rank in education. “Let’s see if idea, I can be for it ... and later, he still is thriving n t h e i nve st m e nt we can get out of the Democrats can have bad ibusiness, he said. He bottom five.” H e b e l i e v e s t h e ideas. If I hear a good idea, started his own firm in Noble in 2000, and country’s future as I’ll run with it.” in 2010, he joined a a political power depends heavily on education and that it Michigan-based broker dealer. Though he has secured a comfortable is Oklahoma’s duty, as one of the country’s weakest links in this respect, to invest in it. career, he decided 2012 would be the year He also believes infrastructure is worth for him to follow the dream he has had for investment and will help the state develop half a century, he said. When House District 20 was created this economically. Branstetter said he has faith his year, Branstetter happened to live right at moderate values will appeal to citizens the heart of it. The Friday before the final filing who identify with both parties. He sees the tea party as an advantage to his campaign period, he received a phone call from because the party’s tendency to reject State House Minority Leader Scott Inman proposals has created a schism in the that convinced him to run for office, and though he was hesitant at first, he finally Republican agenda, he said. “If a Republican has an idea, I can be for agreed. “I’m a loser,” he joked. “Before this June it ... and Democrats can have bad ideas,” he said, discussing his tendency toward primary, I had never won a race in my life. political moderation. “If I hear a good I wasn’t good-looking, I wasn’t popular ... but all of a sudden people saw me as a idea, I’ll run with it.” Branstetter holds two degrees from OU ‘can-do’ type of person. Now that I’ve won — business administration and political an election, I think I can do it again, but it will be close.” science.
For The Oklahoma Daily
Occupation: He was a fifth-grader who fell from Mayor of Slaughterville almost eight feet, straight onto his head. The doctors said he wouldn’t make it. After being in a week-long coma, Bob “Since I worked all the time and traveled Cleveland woke up deaf in one ear and 70-percent deaf in the other. Now, despite a lot, I really couldn’t get involved in the that adversity, Cleveland is running for Chamber of Commerce or really active in politics,” he said. “But once I slowed Oklahoma’s House District 20 seat. He grew up in south Oklahoma City with down, I started getting involved in politics by helping candidates run for office.” two older brothers and two older sisters. He has held several offices in the “We were kind of like everybody else back in those days: We were poor Cleveland County Republican Party, including his current but didn’t know it,” “I’m working for position as mayor of Cleveland said. “I slept in my mom’s dresser. everybody in this district. Slaughterville. “I’ve never had an She’d take her stuff out ... We’ve got to move interest in running for and make me a bed in Oklahoma along — can’t office until the seat there until I was 2.” About seven years let politics get in the way.” came open,” Cleveland said. “I liked it because after high school, Cleveland started his own business it was an open seat in a very conservative distributing sports equipment, a goal district. I also started getting calls from he’d had since the sixth grade. Cleveland people at the Capitol I’ve helped before.” Cleveland was endorsed by Oklahoma manufactured some of the equipment himself and now has at least 10 patents Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Labor Commissioner Mark Costello and Gov. and trademarks. “I started from scratch; I didn’t inherit Mary Fallin. Rep. Paul D. Roan, D-Tishomingo, anything,” he said. He lives in Slaughterville with his wife currently occupies the District 20 seat but Barbara, whom he has been married to can’t run for re-election because he has for 50 years and always works with. They reached Oklahoma’s 12-year term limit. Cleveland emphasizes that he embodies opened a business on Campus Corner “true conservative leadership.” selling women’s shoes and ballet attire. “I’m working for everybody in this Later, he worked as a salesman, which enabled him to travel the country and district,” Cleveland said. “I’m going to be very independent in my thinking. I’m beyond, including Taiwan and China. His interest in politics came from his representing the people of Oklahoma, sons, Rob and Rod, who were involved whether you’re Republican, Democrat, or in politics in school. Cleveland, then a independent. “We’ve got to move Oklahoma along — registered Democrat, realized he should be can’t let politics get in the way.” a Republican through their discussions.
House District 44
Thursday, November 1, 2012
area north of State Highway 9, east of 24th Avenue NW, south of Robinson Street and west of State Highway 77 in Norman (includes most of OU campus); excludes triangle north of State Highway 9, south of Imhoff Road and west of Chautauqua Avenue in Norman
Emily Virgin » Democrat
Virgin ready to continue tenure for second 3-year term Community service project inspired her political career
Education: Political science degree from OU; attending OU law school
An OU law student with a family history in law and political involvement is running unopposed for her second term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Emily Virgin, a 2009 OU graduate with a degree in political science and a current OU law student, first ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2010, when the incumbent no longer could run because of term restrictions. “I started looking at that, thinking, ‘You know, this could be a good shot,’” she said. Virgin said her desire to run for office was inspired by a community service project she and other law students did the summer before law school. They worked at the courthouse where they helped women in abusive relationships fill out protective orders. Many of the women told Virgin that the resources for help in obtaining these protective orders had been cut by the state. “I thought there were issues that should be addressed that weren’t currently being addressed,” Virgin said, “and I think that was kind of the light bulb.” Virgin said she has had success in her first term, citing three or four of her bills that were signed by the governor. “Some of my legislation made sure that special education teachers were qualified and made sure that they were deemed qualified by the State Department of Education,” she said. Additionally, Virgin helped to passed a bill making it possible for businesses to treat and reuse their water for golf courses and to fulfill other needs other than drinking water. “It was really important in Norman especially,” she said. “We’re a very conservation-minded community, and water is
Occupation: Representative Committees Virgin is involved in: • A&B Judiciary • Common Education • Conference Committee on Redistricting • Higher Education & Career Tech • Judiciary
Oklahoma Representative Emily Virgin, D-Norman, speaks at the Oklahoma Girls State Conference at OU. The second-year law student is running unopposed for re-election in House District 44.
“I thought there were issues that should be addressed that weren’t currently being addressed, and I think that was kind of the light bulb.” definitely a big issue right now.” Virgin also said that education is an issue that is particularly important to her. “I see the cost that every student has to
pay [for college], and so one big thing for me is making sure that college is affordable for every student that wants to go,” she said. Political science senior Sam Camp said he thinks the state of Oklahoma should have a similar university program to that of Massachusetts: There, if a student gets a certain SAT score or is in a certain percentile of his class, he can get free tuition at Massachusetts public universities. Camp, the chairman of the College
Republicans, had met Virgin through a friend, then helped to bring her to campus for a bipartisan event at the Honors College. “We just agreed to disagree on partisanship,” he said. “I live in Emily’s House district and have seen Emily and her mom go door to door to meet with constituents and distribute campaign material,” said AnnMarie Szymanski in an email. Szymanski is a political science professor who had Virgin in class and said that she “stood out [in class] for being wellinformed and industrious.” Politics runs in the family for Virgin. Virgin’s brother also went to law school, her father is a lawyer, and her grandfather is preparing to retire from the position of County Commissioner for Cleveland County after 23 years. Having grown up around campaigning with her grandfather, Virgin said she always knew she wanted to be involved in politics. Virgin hopes to stay in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for 12 years and practice law in private practice after graduation. “I don’t know after the legislature if I will continue in politics, but I know that I will always be involved with politics and with helping and serving others,” she said.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
House District 45
area north of Robinson Street, east of 12th Avenue NW, south of Indian Hills Road and west of State Highway 77 in Norman; area north of State Highway 9, east of State Highway 77, south of Franklin Road and west of Lake Thunderbird in Norman
Paula ROBERTS » Democrat
Aaron Stiles » Republican
Former school teacher emphasizes education
Incumbent not afraid to fight for constituents
Personal challenges readied candidate for political arena
Candidate seeks 2nd term to revise state’s legal system
For The Oklahoma Daily
Hometown: Norman Education: Master’s from OU Occupation: Former school teacher
Growing up in rural Pottawatomie County, farming was not something Paula Roberts was particularly fond of. Visiting the hen house and coming face to face with its cackling chickens terrified the Roberts, who used to be a military wife. During her husband’s service, the couple young girl. “My siblings used to always tease me moved around and once was stationed in and tell me I was adopted because I didn’t Okinawa, Japan. “Arriving in Okinawa, the culture shock like farm work,” Roberts said. Roberts never learned to like farm was huge,” Roberts said. “We were the work, but she did learn from her parents minorities.” She said this experience taught her to the importance of education. become more open“Both my parents “I think when you minded. did not finish high Another personal school because they experience life as a challenge came in couldn’t, so it was imminority, you see the world February 1999, when portant to them that differently and come to Roberts went in for a their children get educated,” Roberts said. understand ... other people.” routine check-up at the doctor’s office and Roberts eventually went on to achieve what her parents never learned she had breast cancer. “It was devastating.” Roberts said. “You had the opportunity to do — earn bachask yourself, ‘Why me?’ But then you reelor’s and master’s degrees. That education afforded her the oppor- alize, ‘OK, this is the situation, and now I tunity to teach and serve as the Cleveland have to research, look at my options and deal with it.’” County Election Board secretary. Roberts did deal with it, fought and won. Today, Roberts is using her education to enter something far more terrifying than a She credits the experience with leading hen house: the political arena. She will her to a more positive outlook on life. “You realize your time on earth is limrun against incumbent Republican Aaron Stiles for a seat representing Norman ited,” Roberts said. “You have to make the best of it.” House District 45. In the end, the office will be won or lost Running against an incumbent poses on the doorstep because voters will vote an additional challenge. “You need ammunition in order to for the candidates who establish thembeat an incumbent. Aaron has had his fair selves as more likeable than their opposhare of controversies, so that gives Paula nents, Gaddie said. “People vote for the people they’d like some ammo, but that still might not be enough,” said Bill Nations, former state to have coffee with in their living room,” Nations said. “Paula can make the argurepresentative. Facing a challenge is nothing new for ment that she is that person.”
For The Oklahoma Daily
Hometown: Norman Education: Law degree Occupation:
Attorney As incumbent candidate for District 45’s state representative, Aaron Stiles takes serious the idea of being a “pit bull” for the people — a role he’d resume if re-elected. After working in the Oklahoma state the state legal system, including medical capitol for two years, the Republican can- litigation and attorney fee-churning, reindidate said he has learned the realities of ing government spending and promoting working within a political system needing local business growth. During his time in office, Stiles has reform. “I think a lot of politicians just tell people served in three House committees— what they want to hear, and that’s not what Government Modernization, Judiciary I’m going to do,” Stiles, 33, said behind a and Veteran and Military Affairs—and the Appropriations mahogany conference table in his Main Street “I think a lot of politicians and Budget Judiciary office’s conference just tell people what they subcommittee. Oklahoma is facing room. want to hear, and that’s a crossroads in its fuThe building houses his 4-year-old law firm, not what I’m going to do.” ture, so its legislators need to focus on “stayStiles Legal Group, and half a dozen other local businesses renting ing the course and cutting needless government spending,” Stiles said the space from him. “I think people like the fact that I fight At a recent candidate forum at the Norman Chamber of Commerce, Stiles for them [in the House], and I don’t back thanked his wife, Joanne, calling them- down from fights when I’m trying to proselves a “2-in-1 special,” a good team vot- tect my constituents,” Stiles said. After losing in the 2008 general elecers would be lucky to have. “Basically, you get her brains and tion, Stiles was elected in 2010 after a secbeauty, and my humility,” he said to the ond campaign against incumbent Wallace Collins, D-Norman. He won by nearly 500 audience. The couple, married since 2003, live votes of the 12,000 ballots cast, according with their dogs on a ranch outside Norman to the state election board. District 45 includes the more rural by Lake Thunderbird. Stiles, who has a communications de- county areas outside Norman’s city limits, gree from OU, doesn’t just cut the ten- where issues such as road maintenance sion—he melts it away with the relaxed and water rights with Lake Thunderbird matter more, local civic leader said charm of an all-American boy. His Okie twang fades when he hits home Stephen Tyler Holman. “Generally they want better roads out in a serious point though — he’s running for country, they want intersections that are office to serve his district’s citizens. If elected to a second term, Stiles said not blocked, deer signs, things like that are he would continue to focus on revising what I hear,” he said.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
• The Daily’s pull-out voter’s guide • Judicial Retention
12 state judges up for retention this election 4 Supreme Court justices, 8 appellate judges on ballot Mike Wormley Campus Reporter
The names of twelve Oklahoma judges will appear on the ballot this November and Oklahoma voters will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not to retain them. Four Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices and eight appellate judges — three from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and five from the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals — are up for retention. Voters can decide to retain them thanks to the 1967 amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution and a 1987 statute that moved the three appellate courts from partisan campaigns to a merit retention system. Judges do not campaign to be retained so voters must take a proactive approach to educating themselves on the judges, said Oklahoma Bar Association President Cathy Christensen. Christensen said courtfacts.org is an invaluable resource to help voters learn more about the current judges. “In my opinion Sooners appreciate the importance of a level playing field,” Christensen said. “The website helps voters understand that judges and justices must be free to decide a case without fear of retaliation.” While retention is not as big a topic
AT A GLANCE A look at the state judges up for retetion in this year’s election Supreme Court Justices
Court of Civil Appeals Judges
Court of Criminal Appeals Judges
Justice Noma Gurich District 3 First appointment: 1988
Judge Thomas Thombrugh District 3, Office 1 Appointed 2011, up for first retention
Judge Clancy Smith District 1 Appointed 2010, up for first retention
Justice Yvonne Kauger District 4 First appointment: 1988
Judge William Hetherington Jr. District 4, Office 1 Appointed 2009, up for first retention
Judge David Lewis District 4 First appointment: 2005
Justice James Edmondson Disctrict 7 First appointment: 2003
Judge Kenneth Buettner District 5, Office 1 First appointment: 1996
Presiding Judge Arlene Johnson District 4 First appointment: 2005
Justice Douglas Combs District 8 Appointed 2010, up for first retention
Judge Robert Bell District 5, Office 2 First appointment: 2005 Judge E. Bay Mitchell District 6, Office 1 First appointment: 2002
as the presidential race, she said voters should be concerned with the retention of judges and justices in every district because it is a state level issue and all Oklahomans are affected by the decisions of these judges. The Oklahoma Democratic Party will not make any retention recommendations, said party chairman Wallace Collins. Collins encouraged individuals can contact the parties to learn more about
the affiliation of a specific judge or justice. He also recommended voters visit the state of Oklahoma’s website and its judicial branch page to learn more about individual cases. Because the judges and justices are not running in campaigns it can be difficult for voters to find information about them said political science junior Kenneth Meador. “There isn’t a consolidated source for this,” Meador said. “If the judge is not
controversial you will not hear about the judge.” He usually votes to retain on the basis that if you haven’t heard about a judge, they’re doing their job, he said. The Oklahoma Republican Party could not be reached at the time of this publication. Mike Wormley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit OUDaily.com for lists of polling places and election watch parties in the Norman area WE DON’T JUST IMPROVE THE LIVES OF THE LESS FORTUNATE.
There are no limits to caring.®
IMPROVE THE LIVES OF AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY.
OUR TAKE: GUILD We like Tom Guild (D) across the board.
MAKE YOU LATE TO CLASS
Republican incumbent Rep. James Lankford has a good track record on education but refuses to vote to raise taxes or slash defense spending to balance the budget. He also would get a “D” grade on his stance on social issues.
We feel Virgin did a solid job in her first term and firmly support her for a second. OU law student Emily Virgin runs unopposed for re-election as the state representative for the campus area.
OUR TAKE: VOTE YES There are 12 state judges on the ballot for retention this election, including four state Supreme Court justices.
Although Cole has a grounded stance on education policy, he pales in comparison to Bebo’s track record with the economy and social issues.
Every six years, Oklahomans decide whether to retain state judges for another six-year term.
Democrat Donna Bebo and libertarian R.J. Harris challenge Republican incumbent Rep. Tom Cole.
U.S. REP DISTRICT 4
U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT 5
T N’ DO
S F UG UF DR ST D AN
STATE QUESTION 764
STATE QUESTION 762
This measure would amend the state constitution to allow the state Water Resources Board to issue bonds to create a reserve fund that can be used for water resource and sewage treatment programs.
This measure would amend the state constitution to eliminate the governor from the pardoning process for noviolent offenders, placing sole authority in the hands of the Pardon and Parole Board (which still is appointed by the governor).
The bonds would have to fit within certain parameters to be issued.
OUR TAKE: VOTE YES
PAY YOUR ELECTRIC BILL
The authors say it is meant to streamline the process and save tax dollars.
OUR TAKE: VOTE YES
STATE QUESTION 759
STATE QUESTION 758
This measure would amend the state constitution to abolish affirmative action in employment, education and contracting.
This measure would amend the state constitution concerning ad velorum taxes, which tax the value of property.
The measure’s authors say affirmative action programs give preferred treatment based on race, color and gender. It still would be permitted to discriminate on those bases.
It would lower the cap on growth of fair cash value, a key factor in determining the amount of real property tax owed, from 5 percent to 3 percent a year.
OUR TAKE: VOTE NO
OUR TAKE: VOTE YES
OUR TAKE: GRIFFITH OUR TAKE: OBAMA
For more about this race, see page 8.
Democrat Claudia Griffith has strong stances on education, social issues and the economy.
OK SENTATE DISTRICT 15
Visit OUDaily.com to read full stories about each state question and candidate.
Republican candidate Rob Standridge emphasizes “family values,” which means he’s likely opposed to marriage equality and abortion rights.
when piled on top of a full class load and part-time job, are often cast aside by students with an alreadyloaded plate. So that’s why The Daily created this pull-out guide. If you haven’t had the time to prepare your vote before Tuesday, we’ve done it for you, complete with analysis and endorsements for local and federal elections.
STATE QUESTION 765
This measure would amend the state constitution to eliminate the Department of Human Services, Commission of Human Services and their director positions. The departments dealt with the care of the aged and needy.
OUR TAKE: VOTE NO
A provision would allow the creation of a new department for the same purposes.
Sometimes voting can seem as daunting a task as a four-hour game of Monopoly. And who among us hasn’t endured one of those torturously-long games? Every election, new candidates must be compared against each other, complicated ballot questions must be considered and “Rock the Vote” keeps happening. The responsibilities of being an informed voter,
S TH TAR E TH E A LEC ERE GL TI F AN ON OR CE A T
DON’T LET THE TRAIN
STATE QUESTION 766
We support President Barack Obama for a second term. He isn’t afraid to make cuts or raise taxes to improve the economy, and we support his stances on social issues over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).
OK HOUSE DISTRICT 44
OUR TAKE: BEBO
FR EE PA RK I NG ? This measure would amend the state constitution to exempt all intangible personal property from ad velorum taxes.
Intangible property includes things like patents, formulas, land leases, insurance policies, trademarks, etc.
OUR TAKE: VOTE NO
OUR TAKE: SUPPORT VIRGIN
NO TO N CA M PU S
• THE DAILY’S PULL-OUT VOTER’S GUIDE •
Thursday, November 1, 2012
• The Daily’s pull-out voter’s guide • Our view » endorsement
Choose Obama for a stable, equal America
Our View: As a student and as a citizen, your right choice is Obama.
opponent even more.
Higher Education policies
Both candidates have clear plans It likely comes as no surprise regarding higher education — to our readership that The Daily fortunately, it’s equally clear which endorses President Barack Obama. plan is stronger. We have supported his views Unlike Romney — who suggested over Republican candidate Mitt students shop around or borrow Romney’s in every major issue money from their parents to afford we’ve examined. But as a student college — Obama understands the newspaper representing student economic realities facing students. voters, the choice was clear. He is committed There are many to making education reasons we think AT A GLANCE accessible. Romney Obama deserves a How’d we vote? argued resources were second term. His wasted focusing on The Daily’s editorials economic policies may support Obama, college accessibility. balance intelligent but our decisions are Obama supported cuts with revenue rarely unanimous. debt forgiveness plans raising tax increases, Here’s who the editors are voting for: to remove some of as well as job-creating students federal debt in tax incentives and Barack Obama (D): 5 extreme circumstances policies to help those Mitt Romney (R): 2 Gary Johnson (L): 1 or if they devote their most affected by the Undecided: 1 lives to public service. recession. In the same vein, And most recognizing the current importantly, it’s possible — the numbers add up in a economic situation, Obama has introduced a “Pay As You Earn” plan way Romney’s plan can’t. to limit the monthly payments on Obama’s strategy is the best hope federal student loans to 10 percent for continuing the economy’s slow, of one’s monthly income. but steady recovery. This plan offers a grace period Obama’s policies have helped for students who cannot find work create jobs, begun to navigate the immediately after graduation, while U.S. out of never-ending foreign allowing students to begin paying conflicts and done more to correct social inequalities and extend rights back loans as soon as they are hired. He has expressed support for to oppressed citizens than most of doubling Pell grant funding and his predecessors combined. increasing recipients, which would And when it comes to the two benefit the poorest students. issues that most directly affect He also has urged colleges to students, Obama outpaces his
find ways to lower tuition and has encouraged states to increase funding for higher education.
Healthcare protections Obama’s health-care law offers many protections that benefit students. Students can stay on their parents health insurance plan until they are 26, giving them more time to find a job in the struggling economy. You can no longer be dropped from your insurance coverage once you become sick, and by 2014, insurance companies will not be able to deny you coverage based on a pre-existing condition. And Obamacare doesn’t just make it easier to get insurance coverage, it also requires fair and complete coverage. New plans — and, by 2018, all plans — must cover preventative services without a copay or any other additional fees. Preventative care refers to cancer screenings, mammograms, colonoscopies, birth control and other tests and treatments. Already, insurance providers can no longer cap the coverage you can use in a year or during your lifetime. By 2014, they will no longer be able to charge higher premiums or co-pays on the basis of health or gender. Everyone will pay the same amount for the same services. Obama’s health-care reforms have and will continue to make health insurance more accessible and fair. If his opponent is elected, many of these reforms will be lost.
Why an endorsement? While many major newspapers across the country have recently released endorsements for presidential candidates, many student newspapers have chosen to forego the tradition. These editorial boards offered sound reasons: They do not feel qualified, they do not normally comment on politics or they don’t feel they can affect the outcome in their area. The Daily’s editorial board decided to offer a presidential endorsement because we do commonly offer political research and analysis. We have made it our mission to inform students about a different aspect of the election each Wednesday, and in doing so we have garnered knowledge about the candidates’ current plans and past stances. And while we know Oklahoma — and likely Cleveland County — will go red on Nov. 6, that’s all the more reason we feel it necessary to articulate our support for the opposition.
Of course, we cannot ignore the president’s failures. His abysmal track record of civil liberty violations is, frankly, unforgivable. And his continuing drone strikes against civilians in Pakistan, Libya and other nations put his war-hawk opponents to shame. But his opponent gladly endorses these same policies. In the end, Obama is the only choice for students, the only choice for pro-equality voters and the only choice for Americans on Nov. 6.
Comment on this at OUDaily.com
Senate District 15
Thursday, November 1, 2012
most of Cleveland and McClain counties
Claudia Griffith » Democrat
Candidate seeks better representation for women Democrat runs in decidedly Republican-heavy district
Hometown: Norman Education: Master’s degree from OU
For The Oklahoma Daily
Her friends called her crazy. She had to think about it for longer than a year. She didn’t know if she could run in this race. But her reasons for trying mattered more than the risk. Claudia Griffith would campaign for office. Griffith is a first-time candidate, running as the Democratic nominee for Oklahoma Senate District 15. Her Republican opponent, Rob Standridge, also is a first-time candidate for this di st r ict. Stan dr idg e, a Bla nchard pharmacist, declined an interview request because of time constraints. Incumbent Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, has reached Oklahoma’s 12-year term limit and therefore cannot be reelected. District 15 recently was reconfigured, giving it a decidedly more Republican flavor, said Keith Gaddie, an political science professor at OU. In an already Republican district, that change does not bode well for Griffith. Griffith, 62, worked as a nurse for most of her professional life and decided to run for the Senate seat because she, like many people, is frustrated with party politics and politicians’ self-interest. Another reason to run was better representation for women. Oklahoma ranks 48th in the nation for the number of women legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website. Five women currently serve in the 48-member Senate. “This is ridiculous,” Griffith said. “We are making laws and setting legislation on women’s and children’s issues without having women being there to participate in the discussion.” Griffith came from a working-class family. Her dad, Claud Russell, was a middle manager for IBM in its formative
Oklahoma Senate District 15 candidate Claudia Griffith stands in front of her home with her husband Jim. She is running on the Democratic ticket against Republican Rob Standridge.
“We are making laws and setting legislation on women’s and children’s issues without having women being there to participate in the discussion.” years. The family moved around a lot, forcing Griffith to learn to make friends quickly. While Griffith attended Norman High School, she met for the first time her future husband, James Griffith II, at a J.C. Penney store. She remembers he wore his U.S. Navy uniform that day.They dated for three years before marrying. Then James Griffith served a year in Vietnam for the Navy. Meanwhile, Claudia Griffith earned her associate degree from
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, throwing newspapers along a 110-mile route to help pay tuition. Griffith then worked for a while as a nurse before going back to college at Cameron University while pregnant, which raised some eyebrows. “It was really not acceptable to be pregnant in nursing school,” James Griffith said. “But she determined that she would graduate on time and she did so.” That determination has won Griffith at least one vote. Heidi Smith met Griffith five years ago when working for an accounting firm that managed the account of Health for Friends, a non-profit group Griffith worked for. If something needed to get done, Griffith would not rest until it was accomplished, Smith said. And for that reason, the
Democratic nominee has her vote, despite considering herself a Republican. After Griffith got her bachelor’s degree, she helped her husband graduate from dental school, raised three children and went back to school for a master’s from OU. Only recently did Griffith consider politics as an outlet for her energies, despite having a politician in the family. James Griffith holds the Norman City Council seat for Ward 6. Griffith’s career as a nurse helped prepare her for entering the political arena, though. She was called to Oklahoma City in the aftermath of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, just four months after completing her master’s degree. On Day 3, She set up a rescue tent and helped keep the searchers hydrated and treat any wounds they incurred. That same day, President Clinton came to the site. Griffith was given an FBI clearance badge, along with a hardhat and pair of boots she kept. The boots still have broken glass embedded in them. T h e s e d a y s , w h e n s h e ’s n o t campaigning, Griffith leads a quiet life. She and her husband of 41 years enjoy long walks. Their children are grown, and Griffith no longer works as a nurse. Only time will tell if her platform resonates with voters. Griffith’s husband acknowledges that she’s behind in the polls but still has faith, he said. “If you want her to accomplish anything, tell her she can’t,” he said. “Trust me; it’ll happen.”
• Thursday, November 1, 2012
Senate District 43
southeast Oklahoma City and the northeastern part of Moore
Mike Fullerton » Democrat
Corey Brooks » Republican
Fullerton ready to tackle education shortcomings
Navy officer says better education will lead to jobs
Candidate stresses value of good schools, infrastructure
Brooks says state can create jobs by being energy leader
Hometown: Washington, Okla.
Education: Bachelor’s from OBU
For The Oklahoma Daily
Hometown: Duncan Education: Bachelor’s from UCO Occupation:
Roadway designer Mike Fullerton, a Democrat from District 43, said he is running for the Oklahoma Senate to improve the quality of education and infrastructure in his district. Aside from education, the infrastrucOklahoma ranked 12th in cuts to higher education funding last year, according to ture of District 43 is a major issue for his campaign, he said. Oklahoma can’t dethe Associated Press. Education is key to a good economy, pend solely on the oil and gas industry; inFullerton said. If he is elected, he said he vesting in the infrastructure — improving would fight for schools in his district and Oklahoma’s roads, water and sewers — will create more jobs and business in the protect education from budget cuts. District 65 Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush state, he said. “Oklahoma is reSprings, said he sup“We have to make sure ally growing on oil and p o r t s F u l l e r t o n ’s campaign because all our schools are equal. gas,” Fullerton said. we need someFullerton cares about Every child should be able “But thing to absorb that if education. “It’s criminal the to take their school books the market falls.” Fullerton said he is way we are treating edhome.” anti-abortion and opucation now,” Dorman posed to gay marriage. As a member of the said. Fullerton said he started thinking about National Rifle Association, he believes the running last year because of the poor state right to bear arms should be respected, he said. of education in his district. Fullerton was born and raised in “My 16-year-old son couldn’t bring home a textbook,” Fullerton said. “They Duncan, Okla. He said the rural values he grew up with prepare him to take a were short on books.” common sense approach to issues that Other schools lack resources, too. “Not enough books. No specimen for face his district. Fullerton’s father, from the Rush Springs anatomy. No chemicals for chemistry. A lot of schools in the district are having the area, was in the U.S. Air Force before starting a plumbing business. His mother, a same issues,” Fullerton said. Schools in District 43 are in serious need hairdresser from Duncan, also owns her of repair, Fullerton said. Besides fixing own shop. A good senator has to be willing to lisschools, he said he would work to provide ten to his people and work with them, he nutrition and safety for children. The senate has hundreds of millions said. “I have heard people say ‘ Team in the rainy day fund, Fullerton said, and he said using money from the fund to fix Democrat,’ ‘Team Republican,’” Fullerton said. “I am Team District 43.” schools makes sense. “It’s raining; it’s time to fix it,” he said.
For The Oklahoma Daily
Occupation: When U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer U.S. Navy Officer Corey Brooks returned from his duty in Afghanistan to his hometown of Washington, Okla., he didn’t know what and bypass administration hierarchy,” to do next. “I just didn’t really know what path I’d Brooks said. Most of the school districts in District be down next,” Brooks said. He eventually decided to run for the 43 are small districts containing only Oklahoma State Senate seat in District 43 one high school with more than 300 students. Because of the smaller districts, the as a Republican. Brooks said that it was his desire to get schools receive fewer tax dollars. Purcell resident Mike Berrey had two involved in the area and serve others that children graduate from finally enticed him to “We want to continue Purcell High School, enter the race. “It took a lot of to grow the economy in the largest in the disand has two more thinking, praying and Oklahoma and send those trict, currently in the school talking to folks and precious few education system — an eighthgathering thoughts from some important dollars to the classrooms.” g ra d e r a n d a h i g h school sophomore. people in my life,” “I’m very happy to see Brooks willing Brooks said. Brooks focuses his attention on jobs, to invest so much in the schools,” Berrey education for the children in his district said. “He was raised just down the road and regulating the encroachment of fed- in Washington and knows the need for eral government on state’s rights, he said. school funding in this area.” Another principle of Brooks’ campaign Brooks believes Oklahoma can create jobs by being a leader in energy produc- is stopping what he sees as the encroachtion, whether it is natural gas, wind power ment of federal government on state’s rights, he said. or other alternative sources, he said. “Things like No Child Left Behind and Brooks believes the best method for helping Oklahomans secure a better qual- Obamacare put restrictions on Oklahoma,” ity of life and making them more employ- Brooks said. “No Child Left Behind puts able is through education, according to his rigorous standards on testing.” Brooks’ prior experience in politics is website. He plans to work for more local control of schools, more focus on the ba- something he thinks will help him get sics and more dollars directed into the elected and as a senator if he were to win. classroom, where they can have the most He has worked for the George W. Bush administration in Washington, D.C., as an benefit, he said. “We want to continue to grow the econ- intern out of college, followed by stints as omy in Oklahoma and send those precious a Bush administration staffer and six years few education dollars to the classrooms in the Department of Defense.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
OPinion Column » Native Issues
Column » Energy
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any American Think about that if you are OPINION COLUMNIST Indians are of Native descent and atcynical about tending school on a tribal the American political or federal grant or loan process and how it or are receiving governaffects their culture or ment subsidized tribalcommunities, and for assistance of any kind as good reason. However, part of treaty rights and if the people of the first relationships. Scott Starr nations of the Americas Approximately 15 email@example.com want to have their voice percent of University heard in the marketplace of Oklahoma students of ideas, they should be politically have Native American ancestry, accordengaged and vote. ing to Scott Ketchum, Native American The terms “conservative” and “liberal” studies professor. American Indian stuare culturally relative and nobody knows dents, especially those at our university that better than Indians. For instance, one -- should strongly consider casting their who expresses a concern for ecology or vote for Barack Obama on Election Day for policies pertaining to the environment if they care about the status of American is typically thought of as a Liberal or Indians. “treehugger.” However, in Native culture Some students support Obama and tradition, such a person would because he not only recognizes American likely be considered a Conservative or Indians are an important community, but traditionalist. he actively reached out to answer tribes’ On the other hand, many Native questions. “Obama is the first president to Americans strongly support defense and grant interviews to the Native Americans. the military, therefore identifying with The key word is first,” said Sheila Bird, the Republican Party because of Native Native American studies senior. American warrior traditions. It’s important for all Indian tribes to I also understand the value of such support an administration who will take things within the limits of reason; howev- the time and get to know us. If you are er, any citizen of the United States should an American Indian, this should be imquestion what politicians tell us about the portant to you, for our communities, the necessity for excessive military spending Indian Health Service, Li-heap, tribal coland war waging. leges, education and self governance. I also admonish, as I have before, the Your vote for Obama may seem wasted many Indians who love this country and in this predominately Republican state, who consider themselves patriotic to but it will send a message to our state be wary of the over-use and improper and national leaders that if they want our use of the word “socialism” in political money and votes, they’d better start lisdiscourse. tening and recognizing our treaty rights. Many people who use the word apSpeak up, Native America. This is parently do not understand socialism. our chance to speak to the U.S. and let In fact, in contemporary Conservative Washington know we are still here. politics, the special and treaty relationships the tribes have with Uncle Sam are Scott Starr is a Native American studies commonly regarded as a form of socialism and something to be done away with. senior.
n the stew-like protection of public lands opinion columnist mix of important by Obama and the prefactors concerning vention from millions the national debt, energy of barrels of oil. Obama floats near the top. In the counters with the fact search to replace oil, it that although additional seems that each side of land has been protected, the political spectrum more unutilized land is has cogent reasoning for being drilled on than in Andrew Sartain the validity and absurdity the last 25 years. firstname.lastname@example.org of every replacement This sheds some light being sought after. on why in the second What are the major differences presidential debate; Obama maintained between President Obama and Mitt the claim “oil and gas production is at an Romney’s energy policies? eight-year high” and Romney refuted, Fuel emission standards “You have continued to block more pubRomney is against raising fuel emislic land from being drilled on, preventsion standards on automobiles. He feels ing exploration.” this will cripple the auto industry in a Climate change time desperately needing manufacturObama has acknowledged climate ing jobs. The Obama administration change is a threat and believes we must passed the Corporate Average Fuel continue striving toward carbon reducEconomy (CAFE) mandate, historically tions. Romney has been harder to peg pushing fuel efficiency standards to a on climate change. In June 2011 Romney new level — mandating an average fuel said, “the world’s getting warmer, “ that economy of 29 miles per gallon for au“I believe humans contribute” and “it’s tomobiles, gradually increasing to 35.5 important for us to reduce our emissions mpg by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. The of pollutants and greenhouse gases.” current administration estimates this Since however Romney has cushioned will reduce oil consumption by 12 billion saying, “I don’t know if [rising temperabarrels and consumers will save $1.7 tril- tures are] mostly caused by humans.” lion over the duration of the program. There is much to consider when evalClean energy uating the candidates’ energy policies. Romney thinks we’re wasting billions When arriving at a decision, the imporper year on clean energy and this is why tance rests in thoroughly understanding oil prices are so high. He claims many of both stances and the objectives of each. the technologies are just fads, creating Which energy position will sustain limittemporary jobs and a waste of money. less energy? Which delves further into Obama argues the 3.3 million green jobs the future while addressing the present? created thus far are long-term. He has Information is key and regardless of the promised not to walk away from clean decision you make before the presidenenergy because it is the key to getting off tial election – be informed. not just foreign oil but fossil fuels as a whole, in addition to ensuring regulatory Andrew Sartain is an interdisciplinary market oversight over the manipulation perspectives on the environment and of oil prices. nonprofit management senior. Land use Romney highlights increased
10/29/12 12:48:30 PM
Thursday, November 1, 2012
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ou’ve probably companies for violating OPINION COLUMNIST heard the comthe Migratory Bird Act mon arguments and killing 28 endangered against voting: My vote birds. doesn’t count among 314 My opponent also armillion people or my vote gues change can be done doesn’t count in an etermore effectively through nally red state. direct citizen engageBut my opponent has ment than through voting. Janna Gentry different reasons. While this is true in some email@example.com He argues there are not situations, some tasks are enough differences betoo large and costly to be tween the candidates to warrant voting. done at a grassroots level. After watching the last debate, I have to Though the intentions of the average concede that the candidates do not have citizen taking on large, essential projects many important differences. like road and bridge construction is adThough Gov. Mitt Romney seemed mirable, it is not realistic or advisable. to spend the beginning of his campaign His final reason against voting is too trying to convince his Republican base often people vote based on charisma and he was “Republican enough,” he has repersonality instead of the actual issues. cently moved toward the center. This has I am the first to agree with this assernot gone unnoticed by President Barack tion. I think Romney is an incredibly obObama, who accused Romney of “maknoxious, uninteresting, rich white man ing stuff up based on whether it is convewho has seen little struggle in his life. I nient or not.” have struggled to separate his platforms However, the candidates do have some from his grating personality. different positions on important issues. But this reality is why it is so important to vote every four years. Because in other Gay rights countries where democratic elections Obama has explicitly stated he supare not a part of the government, these ports gay marriage. Though Romney was charismatic personalities come to power a stronger supporter of gay rights during and stay in power until they die. In these the 1994 Senate race in Massachusetts, countries, switching leadership — for his views have since moved to the right. whatever reason — is not an option. Yes, you are one voter out of millions, Economy and if you are like me, your vote won’t The candidates disagree on how much really count in this state, but you are forgovernment involvement is necessary. tunate enough to live in a country where Both stereotypically represent the parevery four years we can have a peaceful ties: Obama wants more government and transfer of power. Romney emphasizes free markets. We don’t live under the constant threat of a military coup or a tyrannical dictator. Environment This is a liberty that many people in the Obama has supported investment in world would love to enjoy, and shame on green energy. Romney, however, sided you if you take that liberty lightly. with the oil companies during the second debate. Romney pointed to the Janna Gentry is an English senior. federal lawsuit against North Dakota oil
magine this Election radically different. This opinion columnist Day, you are highlights one of the worst pressed for time. aspects of the dominant, Let’s say this results in a voting-centric way of conflict we can describe viewing politics. by paraphrasing Albert Seeing politics as Camus: “Should I vote or centered on voting have a cup of coffee?” reduces it to team sports. The average college Rather than basing one’s Jason Byas student will likely shrug views on what’s just, those firstname.lastname@example.org off their “civic duty,” steeped in the culture realizing it is unlikely their of electoral politics base vote will matter, especially in Oklahoma. their views on those of their favored But even if your vote did impact the candidate or party. election, it still wouldn’t matter. Hence why Romney was wrong when That’s because the two candidates on he said “when there are elections, people the ballot in Oklahoma, President Barack tend to vote for peace.” Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, have In this election, it is impossible to vote practically identical positions, with most for peace. The most we can do is vote differences boiling down to personality. for whether or not the person ordering One might object that clearly this is not drone strikes that kill children in Pakistan, the case – after all, Obama is clearly proYemen, Libya, Somalia and wherever else choice and Romney is clearly pro-life. also gives funding to a television program Yet, Obama seemed to not care too for American children. much about reproductive rights when he Somehow, voting gives people a sense supported a bill preventing certain kinds of having “done something.” This relief of birth control from being sold over the is toxic. When you feel you’ve “done counter to women under 17. And it seems something,” you are less likely to actually unlikely a President Romney would be do something to engage your community. the first of many pro-life presidents to do Both candidates have changed their anything toward reversing Roe v. Wade. official stances several times depending On economic policy, we find the same on what’s popular. This seems to show charade that’s been going on for many that if you educate the public, the everyears. Romney pretends to be in favor shifting beliefs of politicians will follow. of free markets against big government. So, if it comes down to voting or coffee, Obama pretends to be in favor of helping snag the coffee. Your vote would do the poor against big business. Meanwhile, nothing to affect real change, whereas both agree on supporting the use of big the coffee tastes good. Voting leaves you government to prop up big business complacent, while the coffee might give and protect it from competition, with you the energy to actually do something. occasional scraps thrown to the poor. And as an added bonus: you probably A good example of this is health care. won’t have meaningless discussions There’s much debate about “Obamacare,” about irrelevant issues in your barista’s (literally the national version of personal life with grown men and women “Romneycare”) but little discussion acting like they’re in middle school. about ways government makes health care artificially scarce and expensive. Jason Byas is a philosophy senior. Still, people see the candidates as