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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Locals discuss views on newly elected politicians

  • With republicans winning seats across the state, locals are debating how this could affect current issues.
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  • With republicans winning seats across the state, locals are debating how this could affect current issues.
    Andrew Gabbert, Oklahoma Baptist University senior, said he was not surprised so many republicans were elected.
    "Oklahoma – that I have witnessed – is extremely conservative," Gabbert said.
    This could cause issues, however, he added.
    "I think that too often people tend to vote straight Republican or straight Democrat," Gabbert said.
    As a first time voter, Gabbert said he did not vote on every question on the ballot.
    "I think it's worse to vote just for the sake of voting, than to not vote because you don't know enough," he said.
    Issues which will likely be discussed in state legislature include the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare.
    Dr. John Robinson, president of the State Medical Association and an M.D. in Shawnee, said the elections would likely not affect the Affordable Care Act.
    "The act is already law," he said.
    He added that repealing the act would require action by Congress and President Obama, which he believed would be unlikely.
    Newly elected state officials may decide not to take the money, which puts hospitals in a position of being under funded, Robinson said.
    However, the hospitals are not without issues if Oklahoma does take the federal funds, which come along with the Affordable Care Act, because there is a shortage of doctors in Oklahoma.
    "There's not a good answer," Robinson said. "Either way we have a huge shortage of physicians in Oklahoma."
    The law did have good points, however, he added.
    "It's good that there's increased coverage," Robinson said.
    He was reluctant to say what changes the law would bring to medicine.
    "It's hard to say anything concrete, because so much is unknown," Robinson said.
    Oklahoma State House Speaker Kris Steele, a Shawnee native, said he is proud of Justin Wood, who was elected to the District 26 seat.
    Steele, who currently holds the seat, had reached his term limit under state law, and could not run again.
    He added that Wood and Democratic candidate Patty Wagstaff both ran a "good campaign."
    Steele said he expects Wood to do well in the House.
    "I'm very impressed with Justin's sincerity," he said.
    Steele said he doesn't expect Wood's age, or the age of other newly elected representatives, to be an issue.
    "Justin will rely on and learn from the expertise of others," Steele said. "No one can do this alone."
    Page 2 of 2 - There are benefits to having more experienced people and young people in politics together, he said.
    "I think what makes this work well is collaboration," Steele said.
    There are other benefits to having younger people involved in state politics.
    "It energizes younger voters to be involved in the process," Steele added.
    Steele recommended everyone in the House and Senate try to work together.
    "Try to overcome the partisan politics that sometimes holds us back," he said.
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