Stillwater News Press

Election 2012

June 19, 2012

District 2 Commission candidates discuss the issues

STILLWATER, Okla. — Ruth Stover and Chris Reding will face off in the Republican primary June 26 for the District 2 seat on the Payne County Commission.

District 2 in Payne County is within Stillwater city limits. District 2 Commissioner Gloria Hesser did not file for re-election. There is no Democratic challenger.

Stover graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in elementary education. She taught for 11 years before going to work in the County Clerk’s office for the past 15 years. Stover, a purchasing agent for Payne County, is responsible for preparing all service and road contracts as well as overseeing 35 accounts.

Reding graduated from OSU with a degree in outdoor recreation. He served in the National Guard Reserve where he worked as a non-commission officer training engineers for the 179th Infantry Regiment. More recently he worked as a product design and development engineer for Nomadics and as a technical writer for MerCruiser.

Reding and Stover participated in a debate at the May Chamber of Commerce Third Friday Forum, where they made their cases to be the next commissioner.

What are your top priorities as commissioner?

Stover: I’d like to repurpose the (old detention center), possibly lease it to bring county money in instead of out. ... If we were to sell the detention center we could pay down the (new jail and courthouse) bond. Another priority of mine is that I’d like to work with the city a little more closely. I understand in the past District 3 and the city have worked together to help get some roads paved.

Reding: First thing that we’ve got to do ... is help streamline local government and help cut expenses. ... There’s opportunities for savings ... by just encouraging a mindset of ‘how can we save, how can we do this more efficiently, how can we do this better.’ The second thing I would like to do is work toward creating ... an economic development mindset where entrepreneurship is encouraged, and finding our county’s place in that. ... To me small business is the backbone of our economy.

Would you propose lifting the Sunday liquor laws at restaurants?

Reding: I would put that on a ballot. ... I (understand) the impact of alcohol sales on our economic development and on our tourism industry. There are conferences and events that would love to come here, but the people can’t get a drink on Sunday, and that business goes to Tulsa or Oklahoma City. It would not be my decision. It’s something that would have to go before a vote of the people, but I think it is something that we need to look at.

Stover: No. I don’t think we should be selling alcohol on Sunday. If we have the kind of function that wants to have an open bar on a Sunday afternoon in downtown Stillwater, I would rather them go to Tulsa to do that sort of thing. If you’re drinking and driving then that is a deadly combination.

What would be the toughest challenges as commissioner?

Stover: Anybody will know if you’ve held an elected position you have to deal with everybody in the county. Everyone there that sits on the Budget Board is an elected official, and that means you have to gather your personality, your charm and your wit to get everyone together on the same page to keep moving Payne County forward, so that the dynamics of this person’s interest and this person’s personality doesn’t take away from the things we want to achieve in Payne County.

Reding: I think the toughest thing for anyone coming into a rather monolithic organization is momentum. Things have been done the same way for so long that they keep moving the same way for so long. ... It’s just a matter of moving things in the right direction, establishing a goal, establishing a place we want to be, communicating that in such a way that everybody buys in and then moving that.

Should county road tax funds be equally divided?

Editor’s note: County commissioners recently changed the division of sales tax between the two road districts from 50/50 to 65/35 in favor of District 3 over the objection of the District 1 commissioner.

Reding: The way it was originally sold was to be equally divided, and the way it’s been for a long time is to be equally divided. ... It doesn’t seem really right that on something that was not an emergency that there couldn’t be some time for (District 1 Commissioner) Zach Cavett to do some of his own investigation. It could be the case that we need to shift it a bit, but I think open study (and) open deliberation would be the way to come about that number.

Stover: I would like to see that money split evenly between the two districts, District 1 and District 3. If I were the county commissioner that day for District 2, I would have tabled the issue. ... I felt if the case were made that there were this many roads that needed paving in this district more than this district, I could maybe see splitting it 45/55 but not 65/35.

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