Vote for quality

The best way to protect the Constitution is to understand it. The problem with that is that precious few of the candidates for political office have ever read the Constitution, much less understand it.

Quality government begins with quality leadership, and that’s the only thing we should be looking for when we go to the polls on July 25, August 28, and November 8. Every one of us, republican, democrat, independent, Whig or Tory, should forget the party and vote for the person with the best qualifications.

To be perfectly honest, not enough real democrats, or real republicans, even bother going to the polls anymore. That leaves our elections, how decision on the people who will guide our state and nation in the future, up to the left wingnuts and right wingnuts.

In our opinion the major cause of voter apathy in our country is that we have too many politicians running for office and not enough statesmen.

Unfortunately, we only get to choose from those have filed for the various offices, and in some of the races this year there’s not a quality candidate available.

Our state has a plethora of problems urgently needing attention. Deteriorating roads and bridges, underfinanced public schools, precariously fragile prisons, unpredictable health care, overcrowded courts, and moldering state parks are momentous problems that must be resolved.

So when a candidate boasts that he has a plan to cut your taxes, know that his plan is to cut his taxes, and those of the people who are financing his campaign. Oklahoma is already a low tax state, and there is no way the state can operate, much less cure its countless ills, without tax money.

We have our endorsements below, but these are our choices. Don’t depend on editorial writers or television ads to determine your choices. Ask people you know and trust, read other newspapers, check records. Be as well informed as you can be.

Without quality leaders, we need not expect quality government.



Commissioner, District 1

Six candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination for County Commissioner representing Rogers County District One. The office is being vacated by retiring Commissioner Gerry Payne.

The candidates are Arthur Mathews, Dan DeLozier, Danny Morgan, John Jumper, John Cummings and Shawn Payne, who is son of the retiring Gerry Payne.

Although commissioners are most visible because of their responsibility for maintaining county roads, burdens of the office are much more awesome. The three-member board of commissioners heads all county government, except judicial, and are responsible for a budget in excess of $14,000,000.

Mathews, DeLozier, Morgan and Jumper all have experience working on country roads, but overseeing a county budget will be foreign to the. Payne, a blackjack dealer at the Cherokee Casino, has no experience county government experience except that his father has been a commissioner for years. The office should not be a family heirloom.

Cummings, a retired law enforcement officer, holds a master of science degree in management, and has built and operated dozens of government budgets. He has also created five and ten-year master plans, giving him sound footing for the office of county commissioner.

He should be nominated on July 25th, and elected in November.



Commissioner, District 3

Despite all the rumors circulating about an FBI investigation in District 3, we continue to believe in the democratic principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and this is no time to make an exception.

Randy Baldridge has proven to be an effective, hard-working, and cooperative member of the board of commissioners. He probably has done as much to unite the county as any one citizen, He has worked with other government entities, and not against them.

Supposedly Baldridge will be indicted by a Federal Grand Jury at some later date. For what, we don’t know. Also, supposedly, his opponent and former roads foreman, Bruce Long, will testify against him in exchange for immunity.

If they are both guilty of some federal charge, why would the voters want either one of them in office?

Ken Froese, Inola farmer and rancher, a decent and respected citizen, is the alternative.



State Senate, District 2

A four-way race for the Republican nomination to take over the State Senate seat being vacated by Senator Stratton Taylor appears to have boiled down to just two — former State Rep. Bob Brown and Ami Shaffer, lawyer, former teacher and a pastor’s wife. The other two are Damon Harris, of Claremore, and Dale Jackson, Oologah.

Both Brown and Shaffer have instant name-recognition in the Claremore area, but the district extends eastward all the way to Salina.

Shaffer’s two major planks are education and strong family values. Brown lists education, public safety, transportation and the Department of Corrections as his major issues.

Brown has the experience edge, but Shaffer has a blazing personality and solid backing from her church. This could be a tight one, but favor Brown because of his experience and moderate stand on issues.

On the Democratic side popular Claremore attorney and civic worker Sean Burrage is unopposed for the nomination.



House District 6

Three Democrats and two Republicans are seeking to replace term-limited Representative Joe Eddins in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from the 6th district, which includes Craig County and northern Rogers and Mayes Counties.

The Democrats are Kenny Weast, Chelsea, Chuck Hoskin, Vinita, and Henry Flanders, Welch. The two Republicans are Wayland Smalley, Chelsea, and Pat Lair of Vinita.

We have not had an opportunity to visit with Mr. Flanders or Mr. Lair, but we have been highly impressed with both, Kenny Weast and Chuck Hoskin. Weast is the younger of the two, but both possess a high level of energy, a knowledge of the job, and are running through a sincere desire to perform public service.

Smalley has run for other offices in the past with no success, and its doubtful he will be able to improve on that record this time.



Statewide races

Governor

Democrat Gov. Brad Henry is favored for an easy win over his only opponent, Andrew Marr of Ardmore.

We would choose retiring Sen. James Williamson, Tulsa, over his three opponents, Ernest Istook, Bob Sullivan, or Jim Evanoff, for the Republican nomination.

Former Congressman Istook simply carries too much baggage, including being tightly connected with disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Sullivan claims to have a three-point plan to save state government, but there is nothing new about any one of his three points. Besides, he is a supporter of TABOR, a plan that almost destroyed Colorado, the only state where it has been previously tried.

Lieutenant Governor

The two Republican front-runners for this nomination are former Sen. Scott Pruitt, Broken Arrow, and Rep. Todd Hiett, Kellyville. Oddly enough, both are supporters of term limits, but now that they are term limited out of office they are running for Lieutenant Governor, where they would preside over the State Senate. They are both equally guilty of conducting mud-slinging campaigns, but ironically, both have been telling the truth on the other.

Nancy Riley, of Tulsa, is probably far superior to both.

For the Democrats, Pete Regan, of Tulsa, is a bright and shining star in public service. At 36 he is the youngest of any candidate for state office this season, but he has packed a wealth of experience into his formative years in public service. He served as an aide to then Senator David Boren, and more recently has been Chief of Staff to Congressman Dan Boren.

Regan knows Oklahoma politics at the street level, and he is articulate and capable. He would be a great spokesperson in the role of lieutenant governor, who often represents our state on economic development issues. The state sorely needs more young people of Regan’s caliber to take leadership positions in state government.

The other Democrat candidates are term-limited Sen. Cal Hobson of Norman, and House member Jari Askins of Duncan. Jim Rogers, of Midwest City, at 71 is still trying to run on his famous last name.

Labor Commissioner

The only other office being contested in the primary is for the Democratic nomination for Labor Commissioner. Retiring Sen. Frank Shurden, Henryetta, is challenged by Lloyd Fields, McAlester.

Shurden, a colorful character to say the least, nonetheless is a no nonsense public servant, well qualified for this job, and would be a friend of the work force in Oklahoma rather than the state contractors, who enjoy the ear and attention of the present commissioner.

The old curmudgeon ...

Remember, never vote for a candidate who:

• Casts doubt on the patriotism of another candidate.

• Ever once uses the phrase “jobs, jobs and jobs.”

• Talks about humble beginnings.

• Wears the American flag as costume jewelry.

• Refers to himself or herself as “God’s choice.”

• Ever mentions the word “prioritize.”

• Can solve all problems with a 3-point plan.

• Refers to his opponent as a “politician.”

There. See how easy it will be to vote on Tuesday?