Tulsans in House District 71 decided in a primary election Tuesday which candidate will represent them in the general election to replace former-Rep. Dan Sullivan. The winners: Katie Henke for the Republicans and Dan Arthrell for the Democrats, will meet in the general election April 3. What follows is a first person report of a primary debate that featured all candidates.
While most primary debates are separated by party registration; Monday
February 6 brought an inclusive comparison of party and personal
perspectives to voters. Here are a few thoughts and an endorsement from
that debate for your consideration.
Five of the seven contestants appeared to speak to a “crowd” the daily newspaper reported as numbering 40 citizens. The first thought after taking a seat at Wright Elementary School were how many in the audience were not affiliated with one candidate or another – maybe 7 to be kind to the League of Women Voters which organized the event.
Republicans Katie Henke, Bonnie Huffines and Gerald Lovoi with Democrats Dan Arthrell and Robert Walpole participated. Candidates are contesting to fill the House seat vacated by Rep, Dan Sullivan, who resigned December 1 to become CEO of the Grand River Dam Authority.
As the Democrats spoke, it was interesting that both agreed that their primary purpose for entering the race was to stop Republicans from cutting taxes. As Republicans are (after 100 years) now the majority; neither Democrat explained how Tulsans would benefit from electing a member of the minority party.
Robert Walpole, 57, an attorney, said, “We need to have someone go and say, ‘enough’s enough.’” Oddly, he described himself as a person that could find common ground on divisive issues which is contradictory to the absolute position of “enough’s enough.” No web site was found for Walpole.
Listening as a taxpayer it was never clear why the Democrats want high taxes; they just seemed offended Republicans are reducing what government demands or, more accurately, taking from the declining half of the population that pays taxes.
Dan Arthrell, 65, is the Director of Public Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Community Service Council of Tulsa and emphasized his experience as a lobbyist – often using the royal “We” in talking about Legislative issues. The question of what “we” he was referencing – nonprofit interests or taxpayer interests – was never made clear. He seemed desperate in self-aggrandizement. He described himself as a “closer.”
According to Wikipedia, “The Closer” is an American crime drama, starring Kyra Sedgwick as a Georgia police detective who closes her cases using questionable methods. The same name was used in a 1991 movie of an aggressive salesman that retires then finds his new situation hazardous according to a synopsis posted online. Most salespeople consider a closer one that forces confrontation with a customer to “buy or fly” which may be the worst self-description of a candidate this writer has ever heard.
Arthrell’s web site may be reached by clicking here.
Lydia M. D’Ross, 48, did not attend the debate, but information on her can be found online by clicking here. She is active in multiple public efforts and would be first Latina State Representative to represent District 71.
Bonnie Huffines, 60, spoke mostly of her faith with very little apparent knowledge of public issues. Her web site carries a front page quote, “I believe in the Bible and in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I believe in traditional marriage and I am Pro Life. I believe less government frees the people to excel. I am interested in Biblical principles being reinstated in all governmental institutions as well as in the school systems. I believe that as we allow God back into the government there will be a healing in our land.” More on Huffines may be found online at this link, http://bonniehuffines.com/
Gerald J. Lovoi, 51, is an attorney that spoke on solid Republican national positions, support for Arkansas River development, his strong belief in the Second and Tenth Amendments, and fairness in State spending that has never been the case when comparing Tulsa to Oklahoma City projects funded by state taxpayers. He has not posted a campaign web site, but his law practice can be reached by clicking here.
Katie Henke, 31, is a preschool teacher at Riverfield Country Day School and has taught at the Little Light House and Montessori School. In conversation with this writer, Henke related a story of older students that had their grades averaged. After the first test; no one studied again. The good students felt their effort wasted and the bad students felt they could coast without effort. Henke said this is what President Obama and the Democrats are doing with their addiction to the redistribution of other people’s money. While long a teacher, Henke has never joined a teachers union because she doesn’t believe they work in the best interests of the children.
Henke strongly supports business as the source of employment and prosperity for Oklahomans and told the audience that her family established the first incorporated business in Oklahoma. Her great-great grandfather, L.H. Rooney, founded Manhattan Construction. Henke spoke of gradually reducing state income taxes and limiting government regulations and of students who had to leave her classroom because their mothers had to leave the state to find work.
“I want to work hard for you to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Henke said. More on Katie Henke may be found online by clicking here.
It is a difficult race for all the candidates as this special primary is oddly timed and without a lot of media coverage. Today, Valentine’s Day, the citizens of District 71 may show a little love for the future by taking a few minutes to vote.
From presentations in debate, individual interviews, web and print material produced by the candidates and the public record; Tulsa Today endorses Katie Henke. Her fundamental understanding of issues in District 71 and the State of Oklahoma will serve her constituents well. Katie Henke is the Conservative choice for District 71 and a leader of which we can be proud.