Claremore Daily Progress

April 27, 2014

Local candidates make pitch for office

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — The Rogers County GOP hosted candidates for the upcoming June 24 primary elections Thursday evening at the Northeast Technology Center in Claremore.

The monthly meeting featured guest speaker and congressional candidate Darrell Roberston, but attention was quickly redirected to local races.

Roberston is looking to unseat incumbent District 2 Congressman Markwayne Mullin. His goal is to reduce the size of the federal government and reduce regulations.

Candidates for Rogers County District 3 Commissioner Kirt Thacker and Ron Burrows kicked off the meeting.

Thacker fielded questions about the current issues facing the county and the recently released findings of Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones.

“If you’re in office and doing something illegal they will come and get you,” Thacker said.

Thacker said the auditor only “dinged” him on one issue, but it was not “illegal.”

Burrows focused his remarks on public safety and the accountability of public officials.

“You are a public servant and you need to have a public servant’s heart,” Burrows said.

If elected Burrows said he will work to insure the 911 Center is successful and law enforcement is equipped to meet the growing demands in Rogers County.

District 12 District Attorney candidates

“I am excited about the opportunities in Rogers County, we have great law enforcement…” Ballard said.  “What we need is a District Attorney’s office that is going to stand behind those police officers and prosecute crimes…”

He said the flip side of the DA’s office is providing civil advice to the county’s elected officials.

“The DA is the chief law enforcement officer of the district. The district attorney’s office should set the tone for what the expectations are for county government,” Ballard said.

A Creek County commissioner was arrested this week after an eight-month investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

“That happens because you have leadership that is willing to move that along and is willing to make those decisions.”

Erin Oquin spoke about her experience as a judge in District 12.

“The DA’s office should be your advocate should you fall victim to any crime,” Oquin said. “Crimes are punished with the hope of deterring future crime although that is not always the case. Those defendants that can be rehabilitated should be rehabilitated. Those defendants that are habituation offenders, in my opinion, have punched their ticket for accommodations elsewhere and we should start the bus for them.”

According to Oquin she has maintained a great relationship with law enforcement throughout her career and that experience will be an asset if elected.

“I am running to stop this nonsense that is going on,” Oquin said. “…People of our county deserve representation, stability, deserve a district attorney’s office that is respectful.”

The incumbent, District Attorney Janice Steidley, spoke about the changes she has made in the past four years.

“Our prisons are overcrowded that is a big issue that we have,” Steidley said. “I do believe in alternative courts…if you have a drug or alcohol problem I do believe in trying to rehabilitate.”

Steidley said Rogers County has several alternative courts including Veterans court, which began during her term.

If re-elected Steidley said she plans to hire more prosecutors and increase public education.

The meeting concluded with the candidates for Rogers County Treasurer, incumbent Cathy Pinkerton-Baker and local businessman Jason Carini.

“I have had enough of what has been going on… I live in Rogers County… it is my home. I want it to be a beacon, not a detriment,” Carini said. “I have stood up where no one else would. I am not in this for myself I am in this for the voters.”

Carini said he wants to bring trust and accountability back to county government.

He also referenced the recent report of the state auditor’s office and the finding that Baker used a county cell phone and Ipad for personal use.

Baker said she has paid the county back for the charges from that bill.

“My experience as treasurer is that I am compassionate treasurer, I work with the tax payer. They call you they have lost a loved one, you have to be compassionate it is not all about the all mighty dollar,” Baker said.

Baker said she stands on her experience and reputation.