Candidates were given an opportunity to discuss their views on topics including education, localized government and economic development at the Thursday night Pottawatomie County Advocates for Voter Education forum.
District 26 candidates Patty Wagstaff, democrat, and Justin Wood, republican, discussed their reasons for running for office.
Incumbent Kris Steele is not running for another term.
“Education is a very important part of what I stand for,” Wagstaff said.
“Family is very important to me and that’s ultimately why I decided to run for state house,” Wood said.
Wagstaff said education is very important to her, and moreover education is the best way to improve economic development.
“They go hand-in-hand,” she said.
Wood said he also planned to help improve education.
“I think we need to get wasteful spending out of the administration and put it in classrooms,” he said.
The candidates were asked if they would support legalizing gay marriage.
Wagstaff said she doesn’t know enough about the topic to have a stance yet.
“I would never vote for same sex marriage,” Wood said. “I would protect the sanctity of marriage at all costs here in Oklahoma.”
District 27 candidates included democrat Randy Gilbert and republican incumbent Josh Cockroft.
Gilbert said education is very important to him, and he would advocate for schools and students.
Both candidates discussed bipartisianship.
“I would hope I would not be called a politician,” Gilbert said. He went on to say that he wouldn’t work for a party, but would work for the people.
“I don’t consider myself a politician,” Cockroft said. “I consider myself a statesman.”
Cockroft explained that a statesman works for all people in the state.
“This is a position of servanthood,” he said.
The candidates also discussed the Affordable Care Act.
Gilbert said he wanted parts of the bill repealed.
Cockroft agreed and said it was not an issue for the federal government.
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“It’s a states’ rights issue,” he said. “We need to let the states decide.”
District 28 candidates included republican incumbent Tom Newell and democratic hopeful Marilyn Rainwater.
Rainwater said education would be one her top priorities.
“I consider education as the gateway out of poverty,” she said. “Every citizen has a birthright to the best quality public education our society can give.”
Newell agreed that education must be a priority.
“Education is obviously a priority,” he said. “Funding is important, it takes dollars to educate.”
He added that he didn’t believe simply adding money would solve the problem.
“We also have to make sure however that those dollars are being used efficiently and wisely, and that those dollars are actually making it to the classroom where they need to go,” Newell said.
Candidates were asked their views on health care.
Newell said he would support keeping rural hospitals open, however he encouraged citizens to consider their “personal responsibility,” when using those resources.
He said, “…the emergency room should not be the place of choice when you have a runny nose,”
“We have to look at the personal responsibility side of that as well,” Newell said.
Rainwater agreed saying she would also keep rural hospitals open.
“I understand the critical need for accessible health care,” she said. “We all know that in any community that is wanting to draw jobs, we have to have good medical services and a modern hospital facility.”
“I would fight to keep our medical facilities open,” she added.