The climax of the 2020 election season is less than a month away. Residents of Payne County have several important decisions to make on Nov. 3 beyond choosing the winner of the white mansion.
Voters will send a State Senator and Representative to Oklahoma City, a U.S. Senator and Representative to Washington, and also decide on two state questions that could affect the lives of many Oklahomans.
Democrat Trish Ranson is running for reelection in the 34th District of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. She supports Medicaid expansion and her highest priority is improving public education.
Republican Aaron Means is running on the opposite side of the ballot. He opposes the diverting of education funds elsewhere and vows to push pro-life legislation. Ranson and Means previously competed for this position in 2018, when Ranson won by a 14% margin.
In the 21st District of the Oklahoma Senate, Republican Tom Dugger is seeking a second term in office. According to the Stillwater News Press, Dugger considers himself “in the middle on most issues,” and prioritizes “watching the budget and ensuring that the taxes collected are spent well.” Rick Dunham is running against the incumbent on the Democratic ticket. His priorities include Medicaid expansion and improving education in Oklahoma.
Frank Lucas is looking to continue his 25 year tenure in the House of Representatives. Lucas supports health care reform through tax credits, cutting taxes, and has voted in agreement with President Trump 97% of the time. Democrat Zoe Midyett prioritizes expanding Medicaid to secure funding to rural hospitals and improving education through smaller class sizes and incentives for teachers.
Jim Inhofe is running to keep his seat in the Senate that he has held since 1994. Inhofe’s website claims he is running to “protect Oklahoma families from the Democrats’ radical socialist agenda and advocate for Oklahoma through his close relationship with President Trump.” Seeking to replace the long serving Senator is Abby Broyles. She prioritizes expanding Medicaid, addressing climate change, and criminal justice reform.
Along with the many candidates residents have to choose from, there will also be two policy initiatives that the public will vote on: State Questions 805 and 814.
If passed, State Question 805 would prohibit the use of past non-violent felony convictions to inflict a greater sentence on people convicted of a non-violent felony. Opponents of the initiative claim it will increase crime, while supporters argue it is common sense criminal justice reform that will not only reduce incarceration rates but also save taxpayers millions.
State Question 814 seeks to adjust the allocation of annual payments from the 1998 settlement with tobacco companies. Currently, 75% of the funds go to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) and the remaining 25% is allocated by the Oklahoma Legislature.
This initiative aims to flip those numbers -- allocating 25% to TSET and 75% to the legislature that would use the money to fund Medicaid. Supporters of the change see this money as a realistic solution to fund the recently approved Medicaid expansion, while those in opposition worry the initiative will damage tobacco prevention efforts in Oklahoma.
Payne County residents and all Oklahomans have significant decisions to consider. Early voting will take place Oct. 29 through Oct. 31. Voter registration ends on Oct. 9 and Election Day is Nov. 3. For more information, visit the websites for the Payne County Election Board as well as the Oklahoma Election Board.