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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Candidates discuss issues, education

  • Candidates for state legislative offices met to discuss their views on various state issues at the Pottawatomie County Advocates for Voter Education (PAVE) forum Monday at Shawnee City Hall.


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  • Candidates for state legislative offices met to discuss their views on various state issues at the Pottawatomie County Advocates for Voter Education (PAVE) forum Monday at Shawnee City Hall.

    Republican candidates for House Dist. 26 were Michael Shaw and Justin Wood.
    Both candidates emphasized the importance of keeping local issues at a local level, and helping to ensure that big government stays out of Oklahoma.
    “Your quality of life begins at home,” Shaw said. “We have to be the one to regulate ourselves.”
    “I believe in localizing, localizing, localizing. Bring control back to the communities and the state,” Wood said.
    Democratic candidates for House Dist. 27 were Randy Gilbert and Troy Green.
    Both candidates discussed the importance of education in Oklahoma.
    Green said he believes the greatest challenge facing the state of Oklahoma right now is budget cuts for services, including education.
    “Our kids are the most important things we have,”
    he said. “And they need a good education.”
    Gilbert said he would not promote school consolidation, and would work to ensure equal funding for urban and rural schools.
    “One of the most critical functions that we are to provide to our young people is a public education,” he said.
    Republican candidates for the Senate Dist. 17 seat were Ernest Clark, Mike Jestes, Ed Moore and Ron Sharp.
    The Senate candidates also discussed ways to improve the state education system.
    Clark said 52 percent of Oklahoma’s budget went to education last year, with 36 percent going to public schools.
    “I think we need to look at Oklahoma individually and see and make a determination of what the needs are in Oklahoma,” he said. “I think there are other areas we need to look at besides just funding.
    “I think local communities need to get engaged in their schools,” he said.
    Jestes said the problem isn’t only with funding education.
    “I think our problem is addressing the money and putting the money where it needs to be,” he said.
    It is important to ensure money stays in the classroom for the students’ benefit, and to pay teachers based not on how long they’ve been employed with the school district, but on the results they produce, Jestes said.
    “We need to hold our education system accountable from the top down, in order to make education count for our kids,” he said.
    Moore said comparing Oklahoma’s education funding with the education from larger states with more money, such as California, was not a fair comparison because these are not equal budgets.
    Page 2 of 2 - Funding education is important, but comparisons between states mean very little, Moore added.
    “The need to fund education to the best of our ability in Oklahoma is certainly one that we need to address and give our best to,” he said.
    Sharp said a change is needed in education. He added that it is difficult for teachers to survive on their salaries, and paying back their student loans makes that more difficult.
    Incentives for teachers are needed to keep teachers in education in Oklahoma, Sharp said.
    “I believe the greatest investment we can make is in our children,” he said.
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