Sand Springs schools take steps to prevent future carbon monoxide scares

After a recent carbon monoxide scare at Clyde Boyd Middle School, Sand Springs schools are taking steps to make sure it never happens again anywhere in the district.

Superintendent Sherry Durkee gave updates on the district’s reaction to a half-week school cancellation at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. CBMS and the Sixth Grade Center were closed for several days last week after students began exhibiting signs of carbon monoxide exposure.

An investigation into the school’s HVAC system revealed 8 out of 47 units at CBMS had become compromised, all of which have now been shut down, and replacements have been ordered. Workers are checking units throughout the district now and detectors are being installed in every single classroom throughout the district.

Durkee says she’s never even heard of a problem like this, that many districts do not have detectors, and some of those districts are reaching out to learn from the experience. Sand Springs will be educating all teachers on detecting signs of carbon monoxide poisoning going forward despite it not being a state requirement.

It’s common for HVAC units to develop leaks over time, and the mass failure was due to many of the units being purchased at the same time and aging simultaneously. The district already has quarterly inspections, exceeding those required by State law.

The Board also approved a resolution allowing Durkee to spend up to $75,000 following an emergency declaration without having to seek Board approval.

The middle school already has fifteen more minutes of instruction time than mandatory each day, so the lost days will not need to be made up.

In other news:

Charles Page High School Performing Arts Instructor Andrea Campfield was awarded a Sandite Spirit Award for her work with the CPHS Drama Department. She recently wrote and directed “When Merry Comes Home For Christmas,” which the Sand Springs Community Theater performed this past weekend.

CBMS students Kaitlyn Gurley and Hunter Cathey were given Sandite Spirit Awards for large donations they made to the Shop With a Cop program that helps provide Christmas presents for underprivileged youth in the area.

CBMS Life Applications for Students (LAFS) teachers Coy Caviness and Brad Ehmke were presented with Coins of Excellence.

The Board voted to rescind ballot language passed in the previous monthly meeting in favor of more specific verbiage that includes band equipment, wrestling mats, desks, and other items that will be purchased following a March bond election. None of the bond election plans have changed, Superintendent Sherry Durkee simply wanted to offer more transparency to the public on what the money will be going to specifically.

The Board voted to enter into an agreement with KKT Architects for designs for the new Central Ninth Grade STEM Academy Project.

The Board approved out of state travel for six district employees to attend the Solution Tree Response to Intervention at Work Conference in San Diego in March.

The Board accepted the resignations of Tammy Green and Dawn Jones, paraprofessionals at the Early Childhood Education Center, and Northwoods Fine Arts Academy, respectively.

The Board approved the hiring of a U.S. History teacher for CPHS, a science teacher at CBMS, and a paraprofessional at ECEC.

The Board voted to accept the resignation of Office No. 1 Board Member Krista Polankski. Because Polanski served more than half her term, the Board is able to either appoint a new member or leave the spot vacant till the next regular election.

Jadine Nollan wins re-election for House District 66 and other election results

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Democratic voters hoping for a blue wave were sorely disappointed with Tuesday’s general election, as were Libertarian and Independent candidates, who failed to win any statewide offices. Several State legislative seats changed party ownership, but the changes were even across the aisle.

Republican candidate Kevin Stitt will be the next Governor of Oklahoma after winning 54.34% of the vote. All State executive positions remained in Republican control, as did both legislative bodies for the Republican Party’s eighth consecutive trifecta.

Democrat Kendra Horn upset incumbent Republican Steve Russell for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, winning by only 1.38%. Horn will be the first Democratic representative from Oklahoma since Dan Boren in 2013 and the first from District 5 since John Jarman in 1975.

State Senate District 30 flipped from Republican to Democrat while Districts 32 and 40 switched from red to blue.

House Districts 6, 15, 17, 18, 24, 75, and 86 flipped from Democrat to Republican, while Districts 71, 79, 83, and 95 changed from Republican to Democrat. Incumbent District 66 representative Jadine Nollan won the Sand Springs area with 58.48% of the vote over Democratic challenger Angela Graham.

Incumbent Republican District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler retained control of the Tulsa County office with 58.6% of the vote. All seven D.A. elections went to Republicans.

Judges Caroline Wall, Tracy Priddy, Linda Morrissey, and Martha Rupp Carter won the District 14 offices on the Sand Springs ballot.

Continuing a longstanding tradition, Oklahomans voted to retain every Supreme Court and Appellate Justice on the ballot. Justice James Edmondson was the only judge to receive less than 60% of votes in favor.

State Question 793, regarding optometrists’ and opticians’ right to operate out of retail mercantile establishments, was narrowly defeated with 50.24% of votes in opposition.

78.01% of Oklahomans voted to approve SQ794, also known as Marcey’s Law, granting certain rights to victims of crime.

SQ798 failed to pass the ballot, garnering only 45.91% of votes. The measure would have changed the Oklahoma Constitution so that gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidates would run on the same ticket, similar to U.S. Presidential elections.

57.22% of voters opposed SQ800 which would have created a State trust fund.

50.41% of voters rejected SQ801, which would have allowed local Board of Education to use ad valorem tax revenues for the purpose of school operations and personnel pay. Currently bond measures may only be used for district building funds.

The Oklahoma State Election Board placed Statewide Turnout at 56.09% with more than 1.18 million ballots cast.

Other results:

  • Lieutenant Governor

    • Matt Pinnell (Republican) 61.9%

    • Anastasia A. Pittman (Democrat) 34.52%

    • Ivan Holmes (Independent) 3.58%

  • State Auditor

    • Cindy Byrd (Republican) 75.18%

    • John Yeutter (Libertarian) 24.82%

  • Attorney General

    • Mike Hunter (Republican) 64.04%

    • Mark Myles (Democrat) 35.96%

  • State Treasurer

    • Randy McDaniel (Republican) 71.59%

    • Charles de Coune (Independent) 28.41%

  • State Superintendent

    • Joy Hofmeister (Republican) 58.52%

    • John Cox (Democrat) 33.78%

    • Larry Huff (Independent) 7.7%

  • Labor Commissioner

    • Leslie Osborn (Republican) 61.73%

    • Fred Dorrell (Democrat) 33.47%

    • Brandt Dismukes (Independent) 4.8%

  • Insurance Commissioner

    • Glen Mulready (Republican) 61.97%

    • Kimberly Fobbs (Democrat) 38.03%

  • Corporation Commissioner

    • Bob Anthony (Republican) 60.04%

    • Ashley Nicole McCrary (Democrat) 34.29%

    • Jackie Short (Independent) 5.67%

  • U.S. Representative - District 01

    • Kevin Hern (Republican) 59.31%

    • Tim Gilpin (Democrat) 40.69%

  • U.S. Representative - District 02

    • Markwayne Mullin (Republican) 65.02%

    • Jason Nichols (Democrat) 30.1%

    • John Foreman (Independent) 2.96%

    • Richard Castaldo (Libertarian) 1.92%

  • U.S. Representative - District 03

    • Frank D. Lucas (Republican) 73.87%

    • Frankie Robbins (Democrat) 26.13%

  • U.S. Representative - District 04

    • Tom Cole (Republican) 63.07%

    • Mary Brannon (Democrat) 33%

    • Ruby Peters (Independent) 3.94%

  • U.S. Representative - District 05

    • Kendra Horn (Democrat) 50.69%

    • Steve Russell (Republican) 49.31%

  • Tulsa County Associate District Judge

    • Cliff Smith 55%

    • Brian Crain 45%

  • Supreme Court District 2 - Patrick Wyrick

    • YES 61.55%

    • NO 38.35%

  • Supreme Court District 3 - Noma D. Gurich

    • YES 61.57%

    • NO 38.43%

  • Supreme Court District 4 - Yvonne Kauger

    • YES 62.19%

    • NO 37.81%

  • Supreme Court District 7 - James E. Edmondson

    • YES 59.4%

    • NO 40.6%

City Council accepts bids for Case Park parking lots and Keystone Forest visitor center designs

The Sand Springs City Council approved several measures relating to City parks and other capital improvement projects at their Monday evening meeting.

Council unanimously approved a contract with Studio 45 Architects relating to the Keystone Ancient Forest. The City will pay the company $40,000 to design a small visitor center at the forest preserve. The visitor center project was approved by voters as part of a 2017 general obligation bond package. The design phase is expected to be completed by Spring of 2019 and will then go to bid for construction.

Council also voted to approve a bid from R&L Construction in the amount of $473,911.00 for a paved parking lot expansion and new sidewalk at Case Community Park. The project will pave an existing 175-spot gravel parking lot at the Jerry Adair Baseball Park, and will add a 36-space lot at the Rotary Super Splash Pad. The project will also include curbs and guttering.

Council approved a six-year Capital Improvement Plan for Pogue Municipal Airport. The City plans to invest $3,830,000 in drainage improvements and taxiway rehabilitation.

Council approved a payment of $64,045.00 to Tim Mills Fence Company for a large section of white vinyl fencing installed along the Sand Springs Expressway.

Council approved a $30,100.00 expenditure to Mills Truck & Tractor Service Inc. for a storm pipe replacement project at the intersection of 2nd Street and Lincoln Avenue. The project is expected to take approximately 2-3 weeks to complete.

Council approved the purchase of 911 Police/Fire Dispatch Consoles for the Billie A. Hall Public Safety Facility in the amount of $49,166.00.

Council approved a resolution of Notice of Election for City Council Wards 1 & 2. Phil Nollan and Patty Dixon will be up for reelection in 2019. The filing period is set for December 3-5. The primary election, if needed, will be held on February 12, 2019. The general election, if needed, will be held on April 2nd.

Kevin Stitt, Jadine Nollan win Republican nominations in runoff

Four-term incumbent Jadine Nollan won the Republican nomination for House District 66 in a runoff Tuesday evening, defeating Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson.

With all precincts reporting, Nollan defeated Jackson with 59.87% of the 3,125 total ballots cast. Jackson received 1,254 votes. 

Nollan is a Sand Springs native, Charles Page High School and Oklahoma State University alumni, and former Sand Springs Board of Education President. She will meet Democratic nominee Angela Graham in the November election.

Gateway Mortgage executive Kevin Stitt defeated former Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett with 54.56% of 302,077 ballots for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Former Party Chair Chris Powell won the Libertarian Party nomination with 59.07% of 926 votes over Rex Lawhorn. They will meet Democratic nominee Drew Edmondson in the general election.

Matt Pinnell defeated Dana Murphy with 58.14% of the vote for the Lieutenant Governor nomination. State Senator Anastasia Pittman secured the Democratic nomination in June and the two will also face Independent Dr. Ivan Holmes, former chair of the State Democratic Party. 

Cindy Byrd defeated Charlie Prater in a close race with 50.17% for the State Auditor and Inspector Republican nomination. She will face Libertarian nominee John Yeutter.

Incumbent Mike Hunter won a close race for the Attorney General nomination with 50.05% over Gentner Drummond. He will face Democratic nominee Mark Myles.

Incumbent Superintendent of Public Education Joy Hofmeister handily fended off Linda Murphy with 56.68% of the vote. She will face Democratic nominee Dr. John Cox and Independent Dr. Larry Huff. 

Leslie Osborn defeated Cathy Costello with 52.35% of votes for the Commissioner of Labor nomination. She will face Democrat Fred Dorrell and Independent Brandt Dismukes. 

Bob Anthony attained 53.61% of the vote for the Corporation Commissioner Republican nomination over Brian Bingman. Ashley McCray won the Democratic nomination with 65.08% over Blake Cummings. They will face Independent Jackie Short in November. 

McDonald's franchisee Kevin Hern defeated former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris with 54.92% of the vote in the U.S. Representative Republican runoff for District 1. Tim Gilpin won the Democratic nomination with 59.38% over Amanda Douglas. 

Incumbent Republican District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler defended his nomination against Ben Fu with 56.61% of the vote in District 14. He will face Democrat Jenny Proehl-Day in November. 

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Powell vows to oppose Federal government on gun restrictions for marijuana patients

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Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Chris Powell responded to reports that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation intends to enforce federal laws that would prevent individuals legally using marijuana under state law from possessing a firearm, saying "that's not going to happen on my watch. I'll order the OSBI and all other state agencies to adhere to state law rather than federal law, not just in this instance but also when there is any other appearance of conflict between the two." Powell has been outspoken regarding federal overreach, specifically promising to "protect Oklahoma's state and local law enforcement agencies from being deputized into serving the national government."  

Voters overwhelmingly passed SQ 788, legalizing medical marijuana, on June 26th and medical marijuana cards could become available within weeks. Included in SQ 788 was a provision that no state issued license may be unduly withheld from an individual because they hold a medical marijuana license, concealed carry permits being specifically mentioned. Despite this now being state law, the OSBI has already amended its form to advise medical marijuana license holders to answer "yes" to a question about unlawful use of a controlled substance, with Special Agent Steve Tanner saying “They may be precluded from being issued a firearms permit."  

Don Spencer of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association (OK2A) has stated the organization's official position to be that "No person in legal possession of a prescription drug should be denied their Second Amendment right to the peaceful possession or ownership of a firearm or be denied a license to carry a handgun under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act unless previously arrested for any violation of the Self Defense Act."  Powell applauds OK2A for speaking out in favor of the rights of medical marijuana users in Oklahoma, further suggesting that "most OK2A members would be supportive of all efforts to uphold state prerogatives in the face of federal interference."

Powell has advocated for legalizing cannabis since joining the Libertarian Party in 2000, and has stated that he would have signed SB 1212, the constitutional carry bill vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Fallin. He will be on the run-off ballot on August 28th after finishing first in the Libertarian gubernatorial primary with 49%.

Attorney General Hunter Advises Health Board to Amend Rules on Medical Marijuana

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today advised the State Board of Health to convene a special meeting to amend the rules it passed regulating medical marijuana.

Attorney General Hunter said his advice is faithful to and in accordance with the new law created when Oklahomans voted in favor of State Question 788.

“The current rules contain provisions that are inconsistent with the plain language of State Question 788 and the State Board of Health acted outside of its authority when it voted to implement them,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Although I didn’t support State Question 788, the people of the state have spoken and I have a legal duty to honor the decision made by the electorate. My advice today is made pursuant to that responsibility as attorney general.

“Moving forward, I encourage all stakeholders to engage with the legislative working group looking at medical marijuana to ensure they have their concerns and recommendations heard and addressed by the legislature.”

In a letter sent today to Health Department Interim Director Tom Bates, the attorney general writes, the board’s role in limiting the forms of marijuana products is confined to food and safety standards that are in line with food preparation guidelines, not prohibiting the sale of smokable, vapable, edible or other forms of marijuana.  

Attorney General Hunter also took issue with the board’s action to require dispensaries to hire a pharmacist, writing, “the board has not been given any express or implied statutory authority to impose additional requirements on licensees. Thus, the board rules improperly require every licensed dispensary to have “a current licensed pharmacist” present “on-site at least 40 hours per week.” Nothing in the text of State Question 788 expressly or impliedly authorizes this rule.”  

Other concerns outlined in the letter include:

  • Restricting dispensaries to limited locations;
  • Prohibiting dispensaries from co-locating with other businesses;
  • Requiring medical marijuana be grown, processed and dispensed in enclosed structures;
  • Requiring a surety bond for licensing;
  • Setting hours of operation;
  • Limiting the amount of THC in flower, leaf or concentrate for sale or distribution.

“I have no doubt that the board in good faith sought to regulate marijuana in a manner it believed would best promote the health and safety of Oklahomans,” the letter concludes. “However, in so doing, the board made policy judgments not authorized by statute. Such policy decisions are the exclusive prerogative of the legislature and the people.”

Read the full letter, here: https://bit.ly/2LvVQMO.

OPINION: Gubernatorial candidate Chris Powell calls for Terri White's resignation

After learning that Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White may have been the individual who wrote the proposals to ban smokable cannabis from dispensaries and to require dispensaries to employ pharmacists, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Chris Powell said a resignation is in order. 

"If media reports are correct and Commissioner White did instigate these obstructionist measures designed to thwart the will of the people as expressed in the landslide vote in favor of SQ 788 then she ought to resign. No one with such contempt for the voters should be heading a state agency."  

SQ 788 was approved on June 26th with nearly 57% of the vote in an election with exceptionally high turnout, causing Governor Fallin to change her mind about calling a special session and putting responsibility for making rules regarding medical cannabis in the hands of the Board of Health, who added each of the last-minute amendments against the advice of the Health Department's general counsel, Julie Ezell. These were similar to several obstructionist proposals offered by the Oklahoma State Medical Association on Monday.  Lana Ivey, executive director of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association, was quoted as saying "Terri (White) pretty much generated the recommendations..."

Powell, who finished first in the Libertarian gubernatorial primary with 49% of the vote but still faces a runoff, believes that voters are fed up with state government officials that forget they work for the people. "The political establishment routinely makes it clear that they don't care what voters think," said Powell. "If Commissioner White was behind these measures to gut SQ 788 then she is part of the problem along with Gov. Fallin who eagerly signed the rules in yet another display of blatant disregard for the wants and needs of the people of Oklahoma."    

Graham wins Democratic nomination, Nollan and Jackson head to runoff

Oklahoma held its statewide primary election Tuesday and while many party nominees won't be decided till the August runoffs, the State did decide to legalize medical marijuana with the passage of State Question 788.

Governor Mary Fallin issued the following statement after a 56.84% majority of voters passed SQ788, which legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana for medicinal purposes: 

“I respect the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state. It is our responsibility as state leaders to look out for the health and safety of Oklahoma citizens. As I mentioned in previous public comments, I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana. I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses.

Incumbent House District 66 Representative Jadine Nollan failed to secure the Republican nomination outright, but was the top vote earner with 45.71%. She will advance to the August runoff against Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson who won 36.63%. Angela Graham won the Democratic nomination with 59.02%. 

To learn more about the HD66 candidates, visit the following links:
Sand Springs teacher Angela Graham running for House District 66
Representative Jadine Nollan endorsed by James Lankford for fifth term
Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson running for House District 66

Elections where no candidate garnered 50% will advance the top two candidates to the August runoff. 

Mick Cornett (29.35%), Todd Lamb (23.87%), and Kevin Stitt (24.41%) each drew about a quarter of the votes in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary. Chris Powell (48.92%) and Rex Lawhorn (32.4%) advanced to the runoff for the Libertarian nomination. Drew Edmondson won the Democratic nomination with 61.39%. 

Dana Murphy (45.85%) and Matt Pinnell (35.7%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Anastasia Pittman (50.42%) won the Democratic nomination. 

Cindy Byrd (49.45%) and Charlie Prater (42.08%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican nomination for State Auditor and Inspector.

Mike Hunter (44.46%) and Gentner Drummond (38.46%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican Attorney General nomination.

Incumbent Joy Hofmeister (46.84%) and Linda Murphy (31.05%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction nomination.

Cathy Costello (43.26%) and Leslie Osborn (35.92%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican Commissioner of Labor nomination. Fred Dorrell won the Democratic nomination with 73.43%. 

Glen Mulready (54.75%) defeated Donald Chasteen (45.25%) for the Republican nomination for Insurance Commissioner. He will take on Democrat Kimberly Fobbs in November.

Bob Anthony (47.17%) and Brian Bingman (38.42%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican nomination for Corporation Commissioner. Ashley McCray (48.79%) and Blake Cummings (22.17%) advanced to the runoff for the Democratic nomination. 

Tim Harris (27.48%) and Kevin Hern (22.67%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for District 1. Tim Gilpin (34.5%) and Amanda Douglas (32.41%) will face off in the Democratic runoff.

Markwayne Mullin (54.15%) won the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for District 2. Jason Nichols (37.9%) and Clay Padgett (24.21%) will go to a runoff for the Democratic nomination. 

Frankie Robbins (64.85%) won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Representative for District 3 with 65%. He will take on Republican Frank Lucas in November. 

Tom Cole (64.74%) won the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for District 4. Mary Brannon (34.36%) and Fred Gipson (30.37%) will face off in a Democratic runoff. 

Steve Russell (83.62%) won the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for District 5. Kendra Horn (43.84%) and Tom Guild (17.91%) advanced to the Democratic runoff. 

Incumbent District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler won 42.73% in the Republican primary for District 14 and will take on Ben Fu (29.04%) in August. 

Representative Jadine Nollan endorsed by James Lankford for fifth term

Incumbent Representative Jadine Nollan was recently endorsed by U.S. Senator James Lankford. (SUBMITTED).

Jadine Nollan is a household name in the Sand Springs community. After ten years on the Sand Springs Board of Education followed by eight years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, she’s asking for House District 66 voters to trust her with another term in the State Legislature.

A lifelong Sandite and 1977 Charles Page High School graduate, Jadine Cox met her future husband, now City Councilman Phil Nollan, at Oklahoma State University. The two have been married for 37 years and have three kids, two granddaughters, and a cat. Each of their children attended Sand Springs Public Schools.

“This is a job that will take as much as you will give it,” says Nollan, who is a full time representative with no private sector career. “I try to be really devoted, I do a lot of research. I try to be in the community.”  Before running for State office she was the director at Sand Springs Community Services, assisting the low-income community with clothing, school supplies, and food. She also served multiple terms as the Sand Springs Board of Education President.

Nollan is the chairwoman for the Higher Education and Career Tech committee and also serves on the Appropriations and Budget Education committee, the Children, Youth, and Family Services committee, and the Common Education committee.

“One thing I learned during the teacher walkout after talking to teachers from all over our state is there are still a lot of issues we need to look at and try to improve in their situations. I do think that we need to continue to discuss how we can make our school systems strong,” says Nollan.

“Our school districts are the ones that actually develop a strong workforce. We have to have a strong workforce in order to have strong businesses. We have to have strong businesses in order to have a strong economy.”

Keeping with that mission, Nollan authored House Bill 2155 which passed both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin in May of 2017. The bill required the State Board of Education to adopt a statewide system of college and career planning tools that would help parents, counselors, and teachers to develop an individualized career-based learning plan for students. 

“One goal I have and would like to see take place is making a very clear pathway for our students to be able to earn an Associate’s degree by the time they finish high school. Our biggest workforce needs right now are Associate’s degrees and career-tech certifications. So I’d really like to see us focus on that.”

She also authored HB3220 which will help streamline the process of approving emergency certifications for teachers during the current statewide teacher shortage. That bill was signed into law in May of 2018.

HB3225 is another bill Nollan is excited about authoring. “When I was elected I found out we had millions of dollars in tax credits that the State was paying, but we weren’t tracking them at all.”

The Legislature created the Incentive Evaluation Commission in 2015, but HB3225 takes it a step further and will put all State incentives online for anyone to view them.

“The State has these blank checks that they’re writing for these incentives, but we don’t understand how they’re growing. I had this idea that kind of snowballed into a real time dashboard concept for tax credits that would measure and monitor the growth of them. What the bill does, is it directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to develop a real-time dashboard and put it on their website. That way, with the constant turnover in the legislative body, it would allow them to have a resource for future legislators to be able to determine how those are growing.”

The bill garnered bipartisan support and passed the Senate unanimously before being signed into law this May. The OTC has until January of 2020 to develop and launch the program.

Nollan says she supports the will of the people regarding State Question 788 legalizing medical marijuana, but says the Legislature will have to work to create a strong framework for the industry. She is concerned with how the state workforce might be affected should voters ever push to legalize recreational marijuana.

Minimum wage should remain at its current level, according to Nollan. “Of course you want people to be able to survive, but I also think that businesses need to be able to determine those rates so it doesn’t put the business in jeopardy.”

Nollan also wants to provide context surrounding a controversial attempt by House Democrats to end the Capital Gains tax deduction during the latest session.

Senate Bill 1086 passed 30 votes to 9, but according to Nollan there was an agreement in the House that Republican leadership would vote to increase the Gross Production Tax on new oil wells if Democrats agreed not to push for Capital Gains. After HB1010xx passed, raising GPT from 2% to 5%, Democrats then attempted to suspend House rules to vote on SB1086.

Nollan says she would be open to considering SB1086, but because House leadership didn’t expect it to go to the floor, the bill never went through the standard process of committee review. “The unintended consequences had not been vetted or researched,” says Nollan. She says the House never takes bills straight from the Senate and votes on them without going through committee first.

Nollan wants to remind voters of all the progress that the Legislature has already made in the past few years, especially HB1023xx which raised Oklahoma teacher pay to second in the region with an average increase of $6,100. The Fiscal Year 2019 education budget, which already passed the legislature, includes a 19% increase in education funding with allocations for textbooks and support staff raises.

She also points to the Energy Stabilization Fund created in 2016, which banks energy revenue during boom years to help stabilize the budget during oil busts.

“67% of our legislative body after this cycle will have less than two years’ experience. There’s some issues with regard to institutional memory. It’s such a huge learning curve whenever you first start: understanding the process and understanding such a wide variety of issues that our state has to deal with.”

“That’s something that I think is noteworthy,” says Nollan. “It does put a lot of power into the hands of the lobbyists, the agency heads, the bureaucrats, when there’s such a large turnover in the legislative body.”

Nollan holds an “A” rating from the Research Institute for Economic Development, a 100% rating from the National Federation of Independent Business, an apple from the Oklahomans for Public Education group, a 100% rating from Oklahomans for Life and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, and “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association and the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association. She has endorsements from U.S. Senator James Lankford, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, and the Oklahoma State Chamber.

The Republican Primary will be held on Tuesday, June 26th. Nollan will face Emily Delozier and Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election on August 28th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 6th.

Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson running for House District 66

Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson is throwing his hat in the ring for the House District 66 election. The Republican candidate is a thrice-elected councilman and has been awarded an apple by the Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education political action group. 

Education is the cornerstone of Jackson's campaign, an issue which he says is "the purest form of economic development." He points to proper education funding as a solution to fixing both the State economy as well as overcrowded prisons. 

"From the womb to the classroom, that's how I describe my philosophy," says Jackson. "Education gives you options...Incarceration breaks up families, continues the cycle of poverty, and creates a reliance on government."

He says the teacher pay raise included in House Bill 1023xx is just a start and that school funding and salaries need to continue to go up. He is opposed to forced consolidation of school districts.

"I'm a Republican that's not afraid to reinvest in our Oklahoma," says Jackson. "We do that by these taxes. You've done tax breaks here and there with businesses and income tax."

Jackson praises the revenue package passed with House Bill 1010xx and says that he would go a step further by raising gross production tax to 7% on new oil wells. The GPT was raised from 2% to 5% during the latest session. He also wants to look at raising income tax and ending the capital gains tax deduction. 

Jackson is a Charles Page High School graduate from the Class of 2002. His wife, Barbie, is a fifteen year veteran teacher in the Sand Springs Public School District. The two have a daughter, Bella, in the second grade.  He earned his Associate's Degree through the Tulsa Community College West Campus in Sand Springs and a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University in Tulsa. He has spent the last ten years as Development Manager for Junior Achievement of Oklahoma and has spent nine years on the Sand Springs City Council. 

One of the most important things Jackson wants voters to know is that he plans to be an "open-door legislator." In fact, he plans to remove his office door altogether so that constituents can always access him. 

Jackson plans to vote "Yes" on State Question 788, legalizing medical marijuana. "If there is something out there like marijuana that can change someone's life - I'm for that. I don't want to be hindering anyone. I think it's a moral issue if you're standing in the way of something that could be beneficial."

Regarding tax incentives, Jackson says they're "the nature of the game nowadays." He points to the City of Sand Springs's recruitment of Reasor's and Wal-Mart as evidence of the success of tax incentives. "You have to do your research to make sure on each individual case, if it makes business sense. We really need to evaluate each one to make sure it's providing fruit."

Jackson is hesitant to raise the minimum wage saying that the current rate provides an individual incentive for employees. "You show your employer that you've got drive and skill and passion for that job, you're not going to stay at the minimum. When the government starts intervening in that, that goes directly to the consumer."

Jackson would have voted "No" for the Constitutional Carry bill that was passed by the legislature and vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin. He says that Oklahomans already have the ability to get an open or concealed carry license, and that removing the screening process would create a "Wild West scenario" that could escalate potentially dangerous situations.

He opposes Senate Bill 1140 which allowed for religious adoption agencies to refuse to work with LGBTQ couples. "I'm a person that believes not to discriminate against people. That bill discriminates. We have thousands of children in Oklahoma that are waiting for a loving family."

Jackson previously ran for a House seat in 2006 and for Senate District 37 in 2016 and 2017. Should he win the primary and November general election, he would have to surrender his City Council seat. Jackson just began a three-year term in May of 2018 and the City of Sand Springs would have to have a special election to replace him. 

The Republican Primary will be held on Tuesday, June 26th. Jackson will face incumbent Jadine Nollan and Emily Delozier. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election on August 28th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 6th. 

Emily Delozier endorsed by former Congressman Tom Coburn in House District 66 election

House District 66 candidate Emily Delozier shakes hands with former U.S. Congressman Dr. Tom Coburn after receiving an endorsement from the conservative activist. (SUBMITTED).

After back to back revenue failures in 2016 and 2017, the Oklahoma Legislature made a big push in their latest sessions to increase their tax base and diversify State income. House Bill 1010xx created a historic $447 million revenue package to help fund public school teacher pay raises and to try and prevent future budget crises.

Of the five candidates running for House District 66, only one opposes that package. Emily Delozier is running with the most conservative platform of the three Republican candidates, and points to the latest newsletter from the State Treasurer as justification.

“At $970.9 million, May Gross Receipts to the Treasury are a record high for May collections,” announced State Treasurer Ken Miller. “As has been the case each month for more than a year, Oklahoma’s economy is showing signs of ongoing expansion.” According to the May newsletter, gross revenue for the past twelve months is up $1.2 billion over the prior year.

The HB1010xx tax increases have yet to begin, leaving some conservative leaders calling for a complete veto of what they see as an unnecessary package. Delozier, together with conservative advocates including former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, helped found the group Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite with the goal of undoing that legislation.

“The corporations don’t pay the tax,” says Delozier. “They pass it on to somebody else.” She says the taxes on cigarettes, gas, and diesel will only negatively affect the average Oklahoman.

The OTU does not oppose the teacher pay raises themselves, passed in HB1023xx, but simply the funding mechanism behind those raises. The group is currently circulating a veto referendum petition to place State Question 799 on the ballot this November. SQ799 would put HB1010xx to a popular vote, but would leave the pay raises intact.

Despite the positive economic upturn, Denise Northrup, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director, told the Oklahoma Board of Equalization Monday that another revenue failure could be expected if SQ799 passes.

All four competitors for HD66 have declined to sign the OTE petition, while Delozier has a copy and welcomes signatures. Her work to oppose the largest tax hike in Oklahoma history has drawn endorsements from Dr. Tom Coburn, the Osage County Republican Party, and the Oklahoma Republican Assemblies over the incumbent Republican, Jadine Nollan.

"Poor leadership in Oklahoma has allowed legislators the easy way out, by throwing new taxes at old problems, instead of doing the hard work of implementing tax reform," said Coburn. "Abortion, Second Amendment rights, tax reform, jobs and educational funding are too important for business as usual, which has not worked. Emily DeLozier will serve well the Taxpayers of HD 66."

SUBMITTED.

Delozier, 70, is a lifelong fourth-generation Sandite with kids and grandkids in the Sand Springs area. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Tulsa and three Associates Degrees from Tulsa Community College. She attends First Baptist Church and is an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“Our mom has always told us, if you didn’t like the way something was being done, just do it yourself,” says Delozier, who has been dissatisfied with Nollan’s tenure in office.

“Right now they’re telling us nationwide that they don’t have enough employees to fill the job market…it’s not hit Oklahoma yet.” According to the May Treasurer’s Report, unemployment stands at 4.0% with more than 74,000 Oklahomans seeking jobs.

Delozier is critical of the HB1010xx tax increase on cigarettes and cigars, which she claims will have adverse effects on the State’s lower income communities. “Oftentimes people smoke because they use it as a coping mechanism…they’re unemployed or underemployed and don’t make enough money.”

“My stance on the revenue problem is that there isn’t really a revenue problem.” Delozier points to government mismanagement as responsible for much of the State’s problems, pointing to high profile cases in the Health Department and Department of Transportation (ODOT).

ODOT recently drew allegations of mismanagement when it appeared that $230 million was missing from the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges account. State Auditor Gary Jones later found that the missing funds were appropriated by the Legislature to deal with the 2017 State Budget crisis.

In May a grand jury found that the Health Department hid more than $30 million of State funding in Federal and County accounts while also claiming a $30 million budget gap and laying off nearly 200 employees.

Delozier calls for forensic audits of all State agencies, consolidation of public school districts and eliminating superintendent positions, and ending tax incentives as ways to improve State services without raising the budget.

“In theory (tax incentives) sound nice, but the truth is it kind of discriminates…Some of these really big guys are getting it at our (small businesses') expense. People want to do business in Oklahoma anyways. If we would fix our infrastructure that would attract more business here. They have to be able to deliver our goods without falling in a giant pothole. I don’t think tax incentives are fair to other businesses or to the taxpayers.”

Delozier is open to raising the minimum wage, but is critical of the Fight for Fifteen campaign, saying that much of an increase will lead to automation and elimination of jobs.

Delozier would like to end privatized prisons in Oklahoma, saying that the for-profit system has created a pressure to fill the penitentiaries and has catapulted Oklahoma to first in the nation in per capita incarceration.

State Question 788, which will put medical marijuana on the ballot along with the HD66 election, is a no-go for Delozier. “We already have legalized CBD oil, which is nonpsychotropic, and it can help veterans with PTSD and children that have seizures. But they’re wanting the THC in the plant, which is psychotropic.”

Delozier opposed HB3375, known as the “Ball and Dice Bill” which legalized games such as craps and roulette at tribal casinos. “I don’t think we need any additional gambling in Oklahoma.”

Delozier supported the Constitutional Carry bill that would have authorized citizens age 21 and older, as well as military personnel 18 and older, to carry a handgun either openly or concealed, without a state-issued license or permit. Senate Bill 1212 passed both chambers but was vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin.

“There’s a lot of cleanup that needs to be done,” summarized Delozier. “Abortion is strong on my mind. If I could do something to bring that to an end, I would feel like I had completed my life’s mission.”

Ultimately Delozier sums up her positions as being for less government, less taxes, and more tax reform. She previously ran against Nollan in 2016 and received 25.7% of the vote.

The Republican Primary will be held on Tuesday, June 26th. Delozier will face incumbent Jadine Nollan, as well as Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election on August 28th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 6th. 

Sand Springs teacher Angela Graham running for House District 66

In the midst of a statewide teacher walkout, thousands of public educators rallied outside the State Capitol building to lobby for increased education funding. While many construction workers refused to cross the picket line to work on the Capitol remodel, one group of individuals was eagerly encouraged to enter the building: legislative candidates.

382 candidates filed to run for the House of Representatives, many with a goal of affecting major change in what some perceive as a stagnant legislature with no dedication to fighting for everyday Oklahomans. Among them was Angela Graham, who hopes to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination on June 26th for House District 66, representing Sand Springs and Northwest Tulsa.

Sandite Pride News sat down with Graham for an interview this past week at Napoli’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Sand Springs. Graham, a native Sandite, likes to keep her tax dollars as local as possible to support the small town economy. Graham currently resides in Sand Springs and both of her children attend public schools.

Graham graduated Charles Page High School in 1999, earned an Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education, and graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor’s in Human Services and Mental Health. She currently teaches Pre-K at Deborah Brown Community School in downtown Tulsa.

Now she wants to teach the State Legislature a lesson on how to treat its citizens.  

Foremost on Graham’s mind is creating a diverse and sustainable tax base to fully fund education, infrastructure, and social services.

“When we are in a revenue failure, we should be looking at every option to get sustainable revenue for schools and roads and bridges,” says Graham.

Graham wants to end the Capital Gains tax deduction, which allows Oklahomans to avoid paying taxes on income from the sale of Oklahoma real estate or stock in Oklahoma-based firms.

She also wants to take another look at increasing the gross production tax on new oil wells. Oklahoma oil wells are taxed at 7% after their first 36 months, but were previously only taxed at 2% for the first three years. House Bill 1010xx, passed in the latest legislative session, raised that rate to 5%.

“The oil is here. They’re going to pay 7% or 9%, they’re going to stay in Oklahoma.”

Graham is a strong critic of the Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! organization, which is circulating a veto referendum petition to undo HB1010xx.

“They’re not really concerned about everyday Oklahomans and regressive taxes…they are concerned about protecting special interests and big oil in Oklahoma. They’re not really fighting for everyday Oklahomans.”

She also feels like HB1010xx contained many regressive taxes, and sympathizes with legislators who didn’t feel comfortable voting in favor of that package.  

“I absolutely understand legislators that refused to sign that because they didn’t want poor folks being taxed more. And I also understand legislators that listened to their constituents and signed that because it was a place to start. Sometimes the vehicle for change isn’t perfect.”

Specifically Graham wasn’t fond of what she calls “moral taxes” on cigarettes and cigars.

She is also opposed to consolidating administration or looking for wasteful spending in public school districts. “I think that’s already been done. We’ve cut everything that we can, we’ve combined everything we can combine. Schools in West Tulsa that affect our district have been shut down. It’s always okay to look at wasteful spending, but there’s nothing left to cut.”

“We’re not in the mess because there’s fraud and abuse at such a rampant level that it’s caused a revenue failure for ten years. We’re in this mess because we don’t have sustainable revenue.”

She was against the “David Boren” one-cent sales tax that was defeated as a State Question in 2016, saying it was a regressive tax that disproportionately affects low income and impoverished Oklahomans.

On the workforce, Graham wants to see labor unions strengthened, wants to undo Oklahoma’s right to work laws, and wants to avoid offering tax incentives to large companies that don’t provide high-paying full-time jobs for their employees. She also supports raising the minimum wage to $15.

“There’s a problem in Oklahoma with stagnant wages with a minimum wage that keeps people poor, and those are large corporations that then also reap the benefits of their employees spending food stamp money in those same businesses.”

“When we pay living wages to everyday Oklahomans, they invest it back in the economy. Every penny that low income middle class workers make – they spend it. They’re not accruing more wealth. It’s good economics to pay them more money because it helps the sales tax, it invests in property tax, it’s just good business and it’s also moral to pay a fair and living wage.”

Graham wants to see a major overhaul of the criminal justice and foster care systems in Oklahoma.

“We are spending an insane amount of money criminalizing everyday folks in Oklahoma. When we are spending more to incarcerate grown adults than we are on per pupil spending – that’s a problem.”

She also wants to eliminate the cash bail system and wants to help ex-cons expunge their criminal records.

Graham opposed the passage of SB1140 which allows private adoption agencies not receiving tax dollars to refuse to adopt to couples whose lifestyles are in conflict with the moral or religious beliefs of the agency, specifically LGBTQIA families. That bill also drew condemnation from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who responded by banning State-funded travel to Oklahoma.

“We have a broken foster care system in Oklahoma. We have thousands of children in Oklahoma that are in desperate need of loving families. We should never make it harder for loving families to adopt children in need. It’s discriminatory, it shouldn’t have been introduced. It’s an attack on a vital part of our community.”

Graham would also like to see the foster care system expanded to provide services for young adults who “age out” of the system when they turn eighteen.  

Low voter turnout is a big point of concern for Graham, who would like to see Election Day become a national holiday. As a state she would like to see automatic voter registration with an opt-out available.

Graham personally opposed the recent Constitutional Carry bill passed by the legislature and vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin. Despite coming from a family that hunts and partakes in recreational shooting, she still believes that gun owners should go through State licensing to carry sidearms in public.

“I would have personally been opposed to (Constitutional Carry), however I understand that the polling from most of the folks in House District 66 were for it. And so when I’m elected there will come a time when I might be personally opposed to something, but if my district is telling me to vote that way, even if it goes against my party, I’m going to be required to represent their needs. And if I ever do have to draw a line in the sand, I would be transparent and make sure they understand my reasoning.”

Graham has never before run for public office, but has served in a number of volunteer capacities, including as Precinct Chair for the Democratic Party. She is an anti-racist worker with Aware Tulsa, the local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice. She has also volunteered with the Parent-Child Center of Tulsa, working with their anti-bullying coalition.

Of the 125 legislative seats up for election this year, nineteen candidates filed completely unopposed and 99 filed unopposed within their party. Three Republicans filed for the District 66 seat, including incumbent Jadine Nollan.

Graham will take on former restaurant owner Rusty Rowe in the Democratic Primary on June 26th.

SEE RELATED: Tulsa restaurateur Rusty Rowe campaigns for Oklahoma House District 66

House District 66 candidates focus on education at Sand Springs Chamber forum

Left to right: Jadine Nollan, Angela Graham, Brian Jackson, Emily Delozier. Not pictured: Rusty Rowe.

All five candidates for Oklahoma House District 66 spoke at a forum sponsored by the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce Monday afternoon at the Tulsa Tech Sand Springs campus. 

Three Republicans and two Democrats spoke on issues ranging from infrastructure to mental health, but the focal point of the luncheon was the state of public education funding. 

Democrat Angela Graham is a Pre-K teacher, lifelong Sandite, and Charles Page High School graduate. 

"We have a broken legislature...that has chosen to stop fighting for us," says Graham, who is running on a heavy education platform and hopes to bring raises to Oklahoma teachers and support staff.

Additionally she wants to see all Oklahomans with health insurance, and wants to reduce statewide incarceration particularly among the female population. A big point for Graham is to undo Oklahoma’s “right-to-work” status and strengthen labor unions.

Democrat Rusty Rowe is a former restaurateur, owning and operating Mod's Coffee and Crepes in downtown Tulsa for seven years before closing shop in December of last year. He lives with his wife of ten years and two children in northwest Tulsa. 

"I decided to run because I feel like our current group of legislators have been given opportunities to invest in teachers, students, working class people, and small business owners like myself, and it seems like they often put the needs of their donors before the needs of their people," said Rowe. "I want someone who's listening to the entire district. Not just the Republicans, not just the Democrats - everybody."

"I've been talking to a doctorate of economics...a mayor, city officials, the chief of police, city planners, teachers, school administrators - to make sure that when I say something, it's been researched and I have some teeth to it. I'm not just armchair quarterbacking things."

Current Sand Springs City Councilman and former Senate District 37 candidate Brian Jackson is running as a Republican. Jackson is the Development Manager at Junior Achievement of Eastern Oklahoma and his wife is a public school teacher in Sand Springs. His daughter also attends Sand Springs Public Schools. 

"We need a representative that doesn't give up, that will go against the political parties and remember it's about the people," says Jackson.

Jackson was censured by the Republican Party of Tulsa County during the 2016 Senate race for vowing to support Democratic candidate Lloyd Snow against Republican incumbent Dan Newberry, who Jackson considered to be anti-education. The Oklahoma Republican Party's State Central Committee voted in May to uphold a ban preventing Jackson from accessing the OKGOP Datacenter Program.

Republican Emily Delozier is a fourth generation Sandite with a Bachelor's degree in business from the University of Tulsa and three Associate of the Arts degrees from Tulsa Community College. 

Delozier spoke in opposition of raising taxes, and in favor of consolidating school districts to eliminate administrative overhead and return education dollars to the classroom. 

Incumbent Republican Jadine Nollan is a lifelong Sandite and former Sand Springs Board of Education member. She spoke regarding her past eight years in office and the difficulties the legislature has overcome during her tenure.

"When I was elected in 2011, our country was in a national recession...Oklahoma went into an oil bust...we had pensions that were failing...we had crumbling roads and bridges...we had a worker's compensation system that was one of the most expensive in the nation, we had a capitol building that had been neglected and was unsafe," said Nollan. "We were not tracking any of our tax credits, evaluating them, measuring them, or monitoring them at that point...We had a revenue problem and we were not going to be able to cut our way out of it, though a lot of people still believe that we could."

Nollan pointed to the Oklahoma Incentives Commission, the Energy Stabilization Fund, the Governor's Closing Fund, a revamp of the worker's compensation system, the rainy-day fund, an eight-year plan for transportation, and the Capitol remodel as legislative successes.

According to Nollan, State pension funds are all nearing solvency and the Oklahoma Tax Commission is developing a real-time dashboard to measure and monitor tax credits online. 

Nollan holds a 93% rating from the Research Institute for Economic Development, a 100% rating from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a 50% rating on The Oklahoma Constitution conservative index, a 100% rating from Oklahomans for Life, a 59% rating from the American Conservative Union, a "Pro-Public Education" assessment from Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education, an "F" on the Sierra Club environmental scorecard, and an "A" on the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association scorecard. 

All candidates but Delozier vowed not to sign the Oklahoma Taxpayers United referendum petition overturning a historic revenue bill passed this past legislative session to fund teacher pay raises. If the petition garners 42,000 signatures by July 18, a State Question will appear on the November ballots asking Oklahoma voters to veto the package. 

HB1010xx is expected to raise $447 million in annual revenue by increasing the gross production tax to 5% on all new oil wells, increasing the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, increasing the gasoline tax by three cents, and increasing the diesel tax by six cents. The money is intended to fund pay raises averaging more than $6,000 for Oklahoma public school teachers.

An opinion published by the Oklahoma Attorneys General states that if HB1010xx is overturned, teacher pay raises will remain intact, but the funding mechanism will be removed and legislators will have to find other ways to back the raises. 

Not only has Delozier signed the petition she is also an active member of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite and has copies of the petition available for signatures. 

"You don't want something that's going to raise the price of all goods," said Delozier. "It's not good for Oklahoma. We still have people trying to get on their feet and get a job. You can't raise the price of hauling everything and not expect to raise the price of everything."

The primary election will be held June 26th with the deadline to request absentee ballots set for June 20th at 5:00 p.m. Early Voting will be the 21st-22nd from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and the 23rd from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. 

Friday is voter registration deadline for State Primary Election

(Oklahoma City) – The deadline to register for the June 26 State Primary Election is fast approaching, Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said Tuesday.

Voters have until Friday, June 1 to register to vote, change their address or update other registration information before the Statewide Primary. 

Voter registration forms, used to change any registration information, can be downloaded from the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website at http://elections.ok.gov. They are also available at county election boards, post offices, tag agencies, libraries and some other public locations. 

Voters must either register in person or mail their registration forms and have them postmarked before the deadline. 

The State Primary Election will allow voters to pick the nominees for various federal, state and county offices for November’s General Election. State Question 788, which would legalize medical marijuana, is also on the Statewide Primary ballot. In primary races with more than two candidates where no one receives a majority of the votes, runoffs will be held Aug. 28.

Oklahoma’s primary system is typically closed, meaning only those registered in the party can vote in the party’s elections. But the law allows recognized parties to notify the State Election Board if they would like to let Independents vote in their primaries. Democrats have chosen to allow Independents to vote in their primaries and runoff primaries in 2018 and 2019. Independents cannot vote in Republican or Libertarian primaries.

Independent voters who want to vote a Democratic ballot will be able to request one at their polling location or by indicating they would like to receive such ballots via mail when they make an absentee ballot request.

Voters can check their party affiliation, polling place and other registration information, view a sample ballot and track absentee ballots using the Online Voter Tool on the State Election Board’s website. It can be accessed at http://elections.ok.gov

Tulsa restaurateur Rusty Rowe campaigns for Oklahoma House District 66

On Monday, April 9th, nearly two hundred female attorneys descended on the Oklahoma State Capitol building to lobby on behalf of public educators. Among them was University of Tulsa student Colleen McCarty, whose trip to Oklahoma City inspired her husband, Rusty Rowe, to make the drive two days later. 

Rowe, 35, took the opportunity to file for candidacy in the race for State Representative of District 66. He will take on Angela Graham in the Democratic primary on June 26. Sandite Pride News recently sat down for an interview with Rowe.

Rowe and McCarty will celebrate their tenth anniversary in July. The two have a six-year-old daughter and an eighteen-month boy. The couple owned and operated Mod's Coffee and Crepes in downtown Tulsa for seven years before closing in December. During his time in the restaurant industry Rowe was Vice President on the Art Deco District Owners Association Board for six years. 

"I've been running other peoples' restaurants and my own restaurants for fifteen years and I never really had time to jump into the political realm. This is the first time everything really lined up and I felt a calling to do more than I've been doing."

Rowe identifies as a moderate, and has voted for both republicans and democrats in recent elections. "If it's a good idea, I don't care if there's an 'R' or a 'D' next to your name. It should be supported and fleshed out." 

"I don't think they did enough," said Rowe, regarding the most recent legislative session.

Last month Governor Mary Fallin signed into law House Bill 1010xx, creating $447 million in new revenue and generating an average pay raise of $6,100 for public school teachers.

"The only reason it's historic that it got that much, is because of how much they've cut out of education," claims Rowe. "They lowered the budget 28%, and now they're bragging about raising it 19%. That's not an accomplishment."

Education isn't the only department to take a hit in Oklahoma. According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget is 15% less across the board than the budget for 2007 when adjusted for inflation. In that stretch of time, Oklahoma public school enrollment has risen by 50,000.

"We don't have reliable revenue sources anymore. You need to be investing in things that bring in money. If you don't have a good education system, you don't have people getting good-paying jobs and buying things. That's our two biggest sources of revenue, income tax and sales tax."

Rowe was also wary of HB3375, legalizing craps and roulette at tribal casinos, and an increased cigarette tax included in HB1010xx. "I'm happy for any revenue streams, but we're counting on people's addictions to fund our state, while battling addiction. It doesn't seem sustainable."

Consolidation of school districts is a cost-saving solution often proposed by Oklahoma conservatives, and is something Rowe is at least willing to consider.

"I think we need to look at everything, every aspect of it. Look at what other states have done that have had success. Base it off proven policies, not just armchair quarterbacking."

"I'm not opposed to looking at how many superintendents we have over how many schools. There's probably consolidation that would help. I don't want to consolidate actual schools, because a lot of time schools are the identity of the town."

"But, if there's a superintendent that could be over multiple schools and the data proves that it would not hurt the schools and would save money to do that, I think that's worth looking into."

Criminal Justice Reform was another cornerstone of Rowe's concerns. 

"We need to up revenues everywhere we can, and a lot of the time that's not raising taxes. My father went to drug court for a DUI. He would get called in randomly for tests to see if he had anything to drink. It removes the danger he posed, but it kept him in his community. If he would have went to prison, when he got out he wouldn't have his apartment, he wouldn't have his job, and he'd be in poverty."

"Instead of making him a tax burden forever and making us pay to house him, he continued to work, continued to buy groceries, continued to generate income tax, continued to generate sales tax, and continued to pay into the system and into his community."

Regarding medical marijuana, Rowe believes it should legalized and regulated similarly to any other prescription medication. Not a recreational marijuana advocate, he is open to legalization with regulations similar to those leveled against cigarettes and alcohol.

Rowe is a big proponent of social services due to his own familial reliance on government assistance during his childhood.

"My parents got a divorce and my mom raised my brother and me. She had to use Emergency Infant Services to get me diapers and formula. She had to use Domestic Violence Intervention Services. She's an extremely strong person. She asked for help when she needed it, and she was able to work her way up to not needing it anymore."

Rowe wants to bring reform to government assistance programs and introduce sliding scales for assistance based on income, so recipients don't need to maintain low income to receive help. 

He splits with his party on minimum wage, believing that the "Fight for $15" campaign is unrealistic and should be somewhere closer to $10-12.

"I owned a small business. Mom and Pop shops can't afford to pay somebody $15 an hour. You're going to shut down small businesses, bigger businesses are going to automate half their workforce, so you've just had a big net loss of jobs."

Rowe believes in ending tax incentives for the wind energy industry now that farms have been built throughout the state. 

"When I owned a restaurant, I wouldn't put my best-selling menu item on sale. People are already buying that. You take the new one that you want people to get interested in, and you put that on sale. And that sale only lasts a certain amount of time."

He also wants to raise gross production tax on new oil wells to 7% and wants the government to avoid subsidizing dips in the oil industry. 

"It's not the government's job to bail out your company because you didn't do what other companies have to do and pivot. Take your welders that are used to building pipelines, have them build wind farms. Take your engineers that are used to building loops, have them start working on solar efficiency. A company needs to be smart and start investing in that other stuff."

"People are different, but there are some core things that we all share. We all want safety for ourselves and our family. We all want the opportunity to pursue our own happiness. These are common things that both sides want."

Of the 125 legislative seats up for election this year, nineteen candidates filed completely unopposed and 99 filed unopposed within their party. Three Republicans filed for the District 66 seat, including incumbent Jadine Nollan. 

All five candidates for District 66 will be speaking at the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce Open Forum on June 4th at Tulsa Tech's Sand Springs campus at 12:00 p.m. Rib Crib will be catered in and RSVP is required. Contact kristen@sandspringschamber.com to reserve your seat. 

Sam Childers presented Outstanding Citizenship Award, Burdge reelected as Mayor

Sam Childers was posthumously recognized with the John M. Hess Award for Outstanding Citizenship at Monday evening's Sand Springs City Council meeting. Childers' daughter was on hand to receive the award.

Childers served on the Sand Springs City Council, Municipal Authority, Citizens' Water Study Committee, Planning Commission, and the Pogue Airport Advisory Board over several decades. He passed away in January of this year.

An early backer of the Keystone Ancient Forest campaign, Childers donated land to the conservation and has a trail named in his honor. The Childers family trust recently pledged to donate $7,500 for the naming rights to a visitors' center planned at the preserve. 

Municipal Judge Tom Askew administered the oath of office to Councilors Beau Wilson, Brian Jackson, and James Spoon, who were recently elected to three-year terms ending May 2021. 

Mike Burdge was unanimously reelected to a one-year term as Mayor for the thirteenth time since taking office in 1996. Phil Nollan was unanimously elected to his first one-year term as Vice Mayor. 

City Manager Elizabeth Gray presented each member of City Council with a small commemorative memento in recognition of their hard work. City Council is an elected volunteer position and members do not receive compensation. 

In other news:

Council unanimously approved $45,065.00 for the purchase and installation of a new Court Management software system at the Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center, funded by a 2017 public safety bond.

Council unanimously approved $49,512.00 for the purchase of fifteen Noptic NV3 cameras with LED spotlights for police patrol cars, funded by a 2017 public safety bond.

Council unanimously approved $25,420.70 of public safety bond funds for the purchase of an IRecord Universe IP Turnkey Recording System. The system will be installed at the Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center interview rooms.

Council unanimously approved $137,715.21 of general obligation bond funding for the purchase of new Network Infrastructure and Firewall hardware.

Council unanimously approved a $190,332.00 agreement with Craig and Keithline for services relating to infrastructure planning at the Sheffield Crossing Development. 

Candidate filing begins April 11

State Capitol Building 171101 (Scott Emigh).jpg

(Oklahoma City) – The 2018 candidate filing period for state, federal and nonpartisan judicial offices is scheduled for April 11-13 at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City, State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said Monday.

Filing will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday in the West Hallway on the Ground Floor of the State Capitol just inside the west entrance. Races on the ballot include all five of Oklahoma’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, statewide offices including Governor, dozens of state legislative races and judicial offices.

Large crowds are expected at the State Capitol during the week if teachers continue their demonstrations in and around the building. Although there will be limited parking available for candidates in the west parking lot, parking cannot be guaranteed. Candidates should consider arranging for someone to drop them off near the building and allow extra time to arrive. Space in the filing area will also be limited, and those accompanying candidates will be required to enter the building via regular public entrances.

Candidates will be allowed to enter at the State Capitol’s west entrance and should follow signs to gain entry. Ziriax strongly encouraged candidates to review the candidate filing checklist provided with the candidate filing packet online at http://elections.ok.gov.

“Candidates must be in line by 5 p.m. to submit their paperwork that day,” Ziriax said. “We cannot accept incomplete paperwork, so it is critical that candidates review that checklist to make sure they have everything they need when they arrive.”

County voters will elect assessors, treasurers and district 1 and 3 commissioners in 2018. Candidates for those offices will file at their respective county election boards.

SSPS Board of Ed discusses upcoming bond election, new Ninth Grade Center

Board of Education President Bo Naugle administers the Oath of Office to Rusty Gunn. 

The Sand Springs Public Schools Board of Education met in a special meeting Monday, February 20th, to discuss an upcoming bond election, as well as to swear in board member Rusty Gunn.

Gunn, the lead pastor at Church That Matters and chaplain for the Sandite football team, filed unopposed for reelection last year and was sworn in for another three-year term. Gunn was previously the Board President, and was replaced by Bo Naugle. Each year, the Board rotates positions. Jackie Wagnon was elected as Vice President and Krista Polanski was named Deputy Clerk.

The biggest single issue discussed by district officials was a new Ninth Grade Center building, attached to Charles Page High School. The current building was constructed in 1923 in downtown and housed Sand Springs High School until CPHS was constructed in 1959. Of the 420 students who currently attend CNGC, 319 are shuttled to classes at the high school every day.

In addition to the ninth grade center, the district also hopes to add a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) lab. Phase One of the construction would see an expansion made to the existing CPHS lobby with an interior entrance to four new STEM classrooms. The addition would be two stories, but the second floor wouldn't be built out until Phase Two.

In Phase Two, the district would construct the ninth-grade building immediately behind the STEM lab. It would sit flush with the high school, but the two would only be connected through the front lobby. The addition would connect to the STEM building and would build out the second floor for a total of 22 new classrooms and a cafeteria exclusive to the freshmen. Food would be cooked in the primary cafeteria and carted over to the freshman cafeteria. That process is currently utilized at the Sixth Grade Center and Clyde Boyd Middle School.

New administrative offices would also be built, as the district does not plan to consolidate staff from the two schools. More parking would also be created. District Architect and Bond Projects Manager Jeanie Kvach is behind the designs.

Other issues that the district is considering for bond measures include new sound systems for Memorial Stadium, the Sandite Baseball and Softball stadiums, and the Ed Dubie Field House. The baseball program has been asking for new equipment for several years, and the field is severely in need of grading. The wrestling team, which won State and Dual State titles last year, is in need of new mats. The Pratt Elementary teacher's lounge has been operating without water, leaving faculty without a sink or coffee pot. 

All of the bond issues are still in the discussion and planning stages currently, and nothing is finalized. Community input is always encouraged at District Dialogue meetings and Board of Education meetings. The next District Dialogue meeting will be March 5th at 5:30 p.m. followed by the Board of Ed meeting at 7:00 p.m. Both will be held in the Performing Arts Building at the CPHS campus. 

Sand Springs City Council candidates speak at Chamber forum

Incumbent City Councilman Brian Jackson and former City Councilman Harold Neal spoke at a Chamber of Commerce forum Monday morning at the Sand Springs Tulsa Tech campus. The two are running for the Ward Six seat and the election will be held Tuesday, February 13th.

Jackson, 35, is in his third three-year term on the Council. He graduated Charles Page High School in 2002 and Oklahoma State University in 2007 before taking office in May of 2009. He is currently the Development Manager at Junior Achievement of Oklahoma.

Neal, 65, was a four-term councilman from Ward Five, serving from 2003 to 2015 before moving to his current ward. He graduated Liberty Mounds High School in 1970 and currently serves on the Sand Springs Planning Commission.

Jackson pointed to teamwork among the existing Council as pivotal to the recent community successes such as ALDI and Starbucks. According to Jackson, he first suggested that the City work to put a splash pad on the South side of the river at Pratt Civitan Park. 

Neal says he was recruited to run for his first term by current Mayor Mike Burdge. "I had a big interest in this city as far as the golf course. I was in that business for thirty years." According to Neal, he was an advocate for the golf course at a time when it wasn't as popular, pointing to the sales tax it generates at local convenience stores and eateries from out-of-town visitors as immeasurable. 

Jackson said Angus Valley Park is in need of new equipment but that the passage of a recent general obligation bond will pave the way for a new playground by Spring of 2019. 

Neal identified sidewalks as an area of concern in the ward and said he would advocate for more neighborhood sidewalks if he is elected. 

"I wish more people would call their councilmen when they have complaints," said Neal. "I've never failed to go to the City if one of my voters had a problem. I go to the City and take care of it for them."

City Councilperson is an unpaid position. The City has six wards and one At-Large position. Click HERE to view a map of the City wards. Only residents of Ward Six will be able to vote. The winner of the election will be sworn in at the May City Council meeting.

"Brian's always been a good friend of mine," said Neal. "We worked on the City Council together...I don't feel like I'm running against him. If he beats me that's fine, that's not a problem."

Sharp files special election funding legislation

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin called nine special elections last year following legislators leaving office mid-term. In an effort to protect taxpayer dollars, Sen. Ron Sharp has filed legislation to use the remaining campaign funds of departing members to pay for their districts’ special elections. 

“When we run for office, we take an oath to uphold Oklahoma’s Constitution and serve our constituents faithfully,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be burdened with a large special election bill when someone quits midterm to seek other opportunities or they’re removed from office because of legal or ethical issues. This bill will remove some of that taxpayer burden by using members’ remaining campaign funds to cover some of the costs of special elections.” 

Senate Bill 1006 would place the members’ campaign funds in the State Election Board Revolving Fund up to the amount incurred by the state for conducting the Special Election.  

According to the Oklahoma Election Board, special elections for the House of Representatives cost, on average, $8,000 to $12,000 for a primary or general and double that amount for both. A Senate primary or general special election costs an estimated $18,000 to $22,000 and twice that if both are necessary.

Special elections are called when members resign mid-term, are expelled by the legislature through a two-thirds vote or are removed from office because of ethical or legal issues.  

After leaving office, any campaign funds not obligated for campaign or officeholder expenses can be retained for future campaigns (for the next succeeding term for the same office or for a different state elective office, excluding a judicial office), donated to a charitable organization, returned to any contributor in the amount they donated, contributed to a political party committee up to $25,000 or used to purchase item(s) to donate to a charitable organization. Members may also donate leftover funds directly to the state as well as any county, city, town or school district.