For those headed to the polls on Tuesday, here's a quick glance at the top races in Oklahoma's general election, as well as summaries of each state question.
GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES' INFORMATION
DREW EDMONDSON (D)
- Age: 72
- Lives: OKC
- Family Status: Married to Linda; two children
- Education: Northeastern State University, 1964-1968, B.A. in speech education; University of Tulsa Law School, 1978 graduate
- Occupation: Private Law Practice, 2011-present; Oklahoma Attorney General, 1995-2011; Muskogee Co. District Attorney, 1983-1992; Muskogee Co. Assistant DA, 1979-1982; Oklahoma State Representative, 1975-1977; U.S. Navy, 1968-1977
KEVIN STITT (R)
- Age: 45
- Lives: Jenks
- Family Status: Married to Sarah; six children
- Education: Oklahoma State University, Bachelor’s in accounting, graduated in 1996
- Occupation: Chairman and founder, Gateway Mortgage Group; founded company in 2000 and was CEO until 2018
CHRIS POWELL (L)
- Age: 46
- Lives: Bethany
- Family Status: Married to Amy; three children
- Education: Choctaw High School, graduated 1989; attended Rose State College and Oklahoma City Community College in mid-1990s
- Occupation: Oklahoma City Police Department, evidence management specialist, previously 911-dispatcher, 2009-present; Family Service Counselor, 2007-2009; Sales Manager, Gellco Clothing and Shoes, 2003-2007; U.S. Marine Corps, 1989-1995
GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES ON THE ISSUES
Note: All information is from the League of Women Voters 2018 Voter Guide
Drew Edmondson (D)
- Restore education funding lost from budget cuts
- Work to raise teacher salaries to the regional average
- Reduce administrative costs and put the money in to classrooms
- Increase higher education funding
- Make pre-kindergarten education more accessible
Kevin Stitt (R)
- Teacher pay comparable to surrounding states
- Line-item budgeting in place for state Education Department
- Expand use of video technology for AP courses, particularly in rural areas
- Temporary bonus program to recruit new teachers to stay in state
- Allow school districts to spend property tax revenue on teacher pay
Chris Powell (L)
- More localized and deregulated education
- Believes school are overstaffed because of federal and state mandates
- Wants to see teachers paid more
- Would like to see state legislature and congress *allow teachers to run their classrooms and practice their craft*
Drew Edmondson (D):
- Restore oil and gas production tax to 7%
- Redirect production tax to improve infrastructure
- End capital gains tax exemption
- Increase tobacco tax from $1/pack to $1.50
- Close corporate tax loopholes
- Expand deductions for middle class and small businesses
Kevin Stitt (R):
- Opposes tax increases
- Wouldn’t have signed House Bill 1010XX, which funded teacher pay raises
- Didn’t support recall petition to rescind taxes for teachers’ pay
- Signed a pledge proposing shifting taxes toward consumption taxes
Chris Powell (L):
- Decrease tax credits and incentives
- Consolidate or eliminate certain state agencies to save money
- Skeptical of income and corporate taxes, preferring consumption taxes
- Eliminate tax increment finance districts
- Tax wind, oil, gas at same rate
Drew Edmondson (D):
- Believes monetary incentives tied to prison system are “immoral”
- Agrees with SQ 780, which lowered some drug and property crimes to misdemeanors
Kevin Stitt (R):
- Believes state “stick(s) out like a sore thumb” because has the nation’s highest incarceration rate
- Wants ideas on reducing the prison population, including early release for more offenders
Chris Powell (L):
- Views criminal justice reform as a priority and a fiscal and fairness issue
- State’s prison population should consist only of “burglars, rapists and those who are harming others.”
- Reevaluate criminal justice priorities and sentencing guidelines.
- Supports alternative treatment options for those with drug addiction and mental illness
Drew Edmondson (D):
- Focus more on economic development in rural areas
- Staff Oklahoma Dept. of Commerce with experienced business people
- Encourage innovation and entrepreneurship with more public-private partnerships
Kevin Stitt (R):
- President’s tax cuts are a key to growing and diversifying Oklahoma’s economy
- Business background enables him to recruit new companies to Oklahoma
- Eliminate “wasteful” licensing fees for companies that bring new jobs to Oklahoma
Chris Powell (L):
- Eliminate licensing and certification requirements for some occupations
- Cut regulations on businesses
- Promote organic economic growth, without corporate tax incentives
HEALTH AND SOCIAL WELFARE
Drew Edmondson (D):
- Expand Medicaid and provide wider health-care access to rural residents
- Supported medical marijuana
- Is pro-choice
- Negotiate price increases with drug companies; import drugs from Canada when necessary
Kevin Stitt (R):
- Concerned about the state’s growth in Medicaid spending
- Audit the Medicaid system to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse
- Work toward selling insurance across state lines to increase competition and reduce premiums
- Has doubts about medical marijuana state question, but supports doctors prescribing it for valid reasons
- Would not mandate vaccines
- Appoint justices to the Oklahoma Supreme Court who are anti-abortion
Chris Powell (L):
- Backed state question on medical marijuana
- Opposes outlawing abortion
- Believes abortion should be left to individual states
- Opposes expanding Medicaid
As the second-highest executive official in Oklahoma, the lieutenant governor is the first in the line of gubernatorial succession and serves as ex officio president of the Oklahoma Senate. The Lt. Gov. serves a four-year term that runs concurrently with the governor of Oklahoma.
Matt Pinnell (R) Tulsa: Former state GOP chairman, coordinated state GOP parties for the Republican National Committee. Youngest GOP State Chairman in the country; wants "smaller government, less regulation, and a pro-growth business environment"; started own business in his kitchen with his wife. ORU graduate.
Anastasia Pittman (D) Oklahoma City: Former House member and State Senator. Pittman is a Democratic member of the Oklahoma State Senate, representing District 48. She was first elected to the chamber in 2014. Pittman is unable to run for re-election in 2018 to the Oklahoma State Senate because of term limits. Pittman served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, representing District 99 from 2006 to 2014. Pittman earned her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 1999 and her M.Ed. in Education and Behavioral Science from Langston University in 2002. Her professional experience includes working as a media assistant, legislative assistant, and clerk in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1999 to 2006, as a Spanish instructor, and as a radio talk show host.
Ivan Holmes (I) Oklahoma City: Former Oklahoma Democratic Party chairman. Holmes' career in education began at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College, where he taught English, speech and journalism. After earning his doctorate he began a journalism program and handled publicity at Northeastern State University. He previously served as chair of the Oklahoma State Democratic Party for two years.
STATE AUDITOR AND INSPECTOR
The state auditor and inspector is charged with auditing the finances of all state government agencies as well as performance audits and special investigative audits upon request. The auditor serves a four-year term that runs concurrently with the governor of Oklahoma.
Cindy Byrd (R) Coalgate: Deputy state auditor for local government services. Byrd is a CPA who graduated from East Central University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, and she became a certified public accountant in 2003. She lives in rural Oklahoma with her husband, Steve. She provides training across the state for county officials, school-district personnel, and auditors on a host of issues to help ensure public funds are safeguarded.
John Yeutter (L) Tahlequah: Northeastern State University accounting professor. Yeutter is a CPA licensed to practice in the State of Oklahoma. A native of Michigan, he moved to Norman in 1978, and worked in the building trades for over 15 years. Returning to school, he studied accounting, and worked as a staff accountant at The Williams Group, CPAs in Norman. Continuing his education, he received his PhD from the University of Oklahoma and began teaching accounting at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. He has been teaching there for the past 22 years.
The attorney general serves as the chief legal and law enforcement officer and provides legal advice to the three branches of Oklahoma government. The attorney general serves a four-year term that runs concurrently with the governor of Oklahoma.
Mike Hunter (R) Edmond: Incumbent. Gov. Mary Fallin appointed him to the post on Feb. 20, 2017. Former Oklahoma House member, past secretary of the School Land Commission, former Secretary of State and past first assistant to former Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Hunter advanced from the primary in August by beating Gentner Drummond by 300 votes. Hunter previously served as Oklahoma secretary of state under Governor Fallin from October 2016 to February 2017 and under former Governor Frank Keating (R) from 1999 to 2002. He also served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1984 to 1990.
Mark Myles (D) Oklahoma City: Worked for IBM Corp. for 21 years before going to law school. Prosecutor in Logan County and is currently in private practice.
The superintendent of public instruction, also known as the state superintendent, oversees the Oklahoma State Department of Education and is the president of the Oklahoma State Board of Education. This position serves a four-year term that runs concurrently with the governor of Oklahoma.
Joy Hofmeister (R) Tulsa: Incumbent. Defeated John Cox in 2014. A former public school teacher, Hofmeister served as CEO of Kumon Math & Reading Centers of South Tulsa. She served on the Oklahoma State Board of Education from January 2012 until her resignation on April 24, 2013. Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction (2015-present) On November 3, 2016, Hofmeister was charged with two counts of violating campaign finance law and two counts of conspiracy. All four charges were considered to be felony offenses. Prosecutors alleged that Hofmeister had violated the law by colluding with an outside political group, Oklahomans for Public School Excellence, during the 2014 campaign. All charges against Hofmeister were dismissed on August 1, 2017.
John Cox (D) Peggs: School superintendent. Cox currently serves as superintendent of Peggs school district in Cherokee County. An educator for 28 years and School Superintendent for 20 years, Cox also currently serves as adjunct professor of education at Northeastern State University.
Larry Huff (I): Worked in Education for 30 years; Dr. Larry Huff has over 30 years of experience with the Oklahoma State Department of Education as a Special Education Coordinator, State Director of Gifted and Talented, State Director of Instructional Television, Accreditation Officer and Oklahoma State Director of the North Central Accrediting Association. He also worked as an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University and East Central Oklahoma State University and a full professor at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
US HOUSE - DISTRICT 1 (Tulsa area and several other NE Oklahoma counties)
- Kevin Hern, R, Tulsa: Owner of McDonald’s franchises and other businesses.
- Tim Gilpin, D, Tulsa: Attorney.
US HOUSE - DISTRICT 2 (Eastern Oklahoma – entire eastern part of state)
- Markwayne Mullin, R, Westville: Three-term Incumbent.
- Richard Castaldo, L, Grove: Pastor.
- Jason Nichols, D, Tahlequah: Tahlequah mayor.
- John Foreman, I, Park Hill: Former call center manager.
US HOUSE - DISTRICT 3 (North and northwestern part of Oklahoma):
- Frank Lucas, R, Cheyenne: Incumbent who's had the seat since 1994.
- Frankie Robbins, D, Medford: Perennial candidate.
An initiative petition financed largely by Walmart, SQ 793 would insert language into the state constitution that would effectively override certain statutes regulating optometrists and opticians. The end goal is to allow big box retailers like Walmart to have optometrists and opticians in their stores without a so-called “second door.”
Under current law, stores that sell prescription eye wear must derive more than 50 percent of their revenue from eye care. Otherwise, eye clinics attached to a retailer must have a separate outside entrance – a “second door.”
Supporters – includes large retailers – say SQ 793 will drive down prescription eye wear costs by increasing competition.
Opponents – mostly optometrists - say the proposed constitutional amendment would allow those retailers to offer lower quality of care and is unlikely to save consumers money in the long run.
Also known as Marsy’s Law, SQ 794 is a constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature that would guarantee certain rights to crime victims and their families. These include expanding the opportunities for a victim to be heard during court proceedings, speedy resolution of a case, the right to talk to prosecutors and the right to refuse interviews with defense attorneys.
Victim advocates and many district attorneys say Marsy’s Law gives those affected by crime a louder voice in judicial proceedings.
Opponents – mostly defense attorneys, public defenders and civil rights advocates – say parts of the proposed law undermine the principle of presumed innocence and is likely to prove expensive to implement.
The measure is named for a California woman murdered by an acquaintance.
This measure, proposed by the Legislature, would change the state constitution so that the governor and lieutenant governor are elected as a “team” instead of independently, as has been the case since statehood. The process for these joint nominations is not specified in the proposed amendment and would be determined by law.
Advocates say combining a combined ticket saves money on elections and gives governors more control over their own administrations. There doesn’t seem to be organized opposition to the proposal, but some people say they prefer electing the two offices separately because it leaves decision-making with voters.
The Legislature proposes amending the state constitution to create the Oklahoma Vision Fund, which would receive an escalating portion of state gross production taxes beginning with 5 percent in 2020. Additional money could be appropriated to the fund.
The fund would essentially be an endowment managed by the state treasurer. It would be exempt from the constitutional prohibition against investment of state funds in private equities such as shares of stock. Four percent of the fund would be apportioned annually to the general fund.
The intent is to create more long-term stability for state revenue.
Supporters -- including Republican legislative leadership, say the measure provides for better long-term state budget stability and lessen dependence on volatile oil and gas taxes.
Opponents -- say the state doesn’t have enough money to meet immediate needs, and point out a similar step was taken two years ago with the authorization of the Revenue Stabilization Fund.
The Legislature proposes lifting the constitutional restrictions on the permanent school millage's authorized in Article X, Section 10. Currently, 10 of the 15 mills allowed must be spent on operations, and the remaining five mills on construction and maintenance of buildings. SQ 801 would allow local districts to decide how to spend the proceeds from the 15 mills.
Supporters say this would give schools more budget flexibility.
Opponents say it will not increase overall school funding and could be used to rationalize reducing appropriations.
TEACHERS IN THE RACES
(All information here from Oklahoma Education Association)
More educators are running for office in Oklahoma in 2018 than any other state.
- 99 education candidates filed in April
- 56 educators have made it to the general election (40 Democrats, 12 Republicans, 3 Independents, 1 Libertarian)
- 29 won their primaries
- 7 won their primary runoffs
- 20 did not have primaries and moved automatically to the general election