Voters will decide the Republican and Democrat candidates for Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District this Tuesday. Incumbent Congressman Frank Lucas of Cheyenne faces one Republican challenger in William Stump of Drumright to be the GOP candidate in the Nov. 6 election.
Timothy Murray of Guthrie and Frankie Robbins of Medford are both competing Tuesday to be the Democrat candidate for the seat. William Sanders of Stillwater is running as an independent candidate and will not be on Tuesday’s ballot but will be in the November race.
The League of Women Voters requested candidates answer questions about their campaign. Neither Republican candidate responded. Below are some of the answers from the two Democrat candidates.
What educational and public service endeavors have prepared you to hold the office you are seeking? What is the most important factor that influenced you to seek public office, and why?
Murray: Murray holds a degree in electronics engineering technology and further studies from Oklahoma State University. He brings his leadership and community relations skills from a lengthy, successful career in the pharmacy market. Murray had the desire to seek public office from days in college. However, now is the time in his career that he is seeks the challenge and honor to serve the people. In seeing the direction the current leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has taken our country, he believes that leadership in Congress must be replace with individuals like himself that are determined to work for the better of all people and not just the few select elite.
Robbins: I first became interested in public service in 1963 when I attended Oklahoma Boys State. Because I was a federal employee I was unable to run for public office until I retired. Working for the USDA Forest Service gave me a deep appreciation and understanding of our moral obligation we have to be good stewards of this earth. The mission of the Forest Service was “caring for the land and serving people.” That mission matched what motivates me both intellectually and emotionally. In 1989, I helped start and lead an organization called Partners that matched adults with kids at risk. I found that to be most rewarding and effective approach to helping kids. Following my retirement, I made the decision to return home to Oklahoma to “give back” for the excellent education and support I received as child growing up and Medford, Okla. I came back to make a difference as well.
Sanders: I was a member of the Army National Guard for 12 years, which gave me discipline and an appreciation for cooperation, leadership and duty. I also attended Oklahoma State University, where I interacted with fellow students, many from around the world. I was politically active with the GOP for nearly 20 years, but I have grown tired of the partisan bickering of both sides and “party politics” in general. I would have to give credit to former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who I had the pleasure of meeting, for planting the seed of being a political independent, instead of just settling for the lesser of two political evils. In his words, “aren’t you still voting for evil?” made me think hard about my own beliefs.
What is the role of the federal government with respect to issues such as energy, the environment, housing, education, and health care?
Robbins: Abraham Lincoln captured the role of the federal government best when he said, “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.” The government closest to the people (i.e. local government) is the most responsive government. With education, local school boards should have the most control. But federal government involvement is needed to assure that children aren’t short-changed just because of the state they live in — that is minimum national standards need to be in place. Health care is certainly the issue of the day as to the role of the federal government. It was clearly the role of the federal government to intervene for the people who were being denied access to affordable health care.
Sanders: The federal government should play the role of both an impartial referee and a springboard. We do need laws and regulations for obvious reasons (clean air and water, food safe to eat, sound financial banking systems to name a few). While I don’t like the idea of a “nanny state,” I also don’t like the idea of a return to the frontier days of the wild west, where the law depended on the point of a gun or the charity of strangers. I believe there should exist a healthy balance between state and federal powers, with checks and balances for each.
Murray: The federal government must help resolve those and other type issues that affect all Americans. By working as a national server of the people’s interest, the federal government must have incentives, subsidies and policy that assist state governments in resolving problems that our economy and all Americans face.
What are your ideas with respect to creating greater employment?
Sanders: We right now must address the housing crisis. It is the 1,000-pound albatross right now. Unless and until we can repair this damage and create or re-enact legislation similar to Glass-Steagal, we will face this issue again. We should also address our growing trade deficit, especially concerning our energy supply (Much of our imports are petroleum products). We should have a healthy alternative energy program that can keep more of our dollars here rather than sent abroad. We should also address our spending on all areas of government, even the sacred cow of the military.
Murray: Murray will lead in creating incentives for businesses to improve solid new job growth in all tiers of the job market, not just the service job market. Murray will put forth legislation that will give businesses incentives to create and fill new jobs that require skilled education, degreed education or equivalent experience. This will boost the job sector and lead to more sustainable thriving economy.
Robbins: I support the president’s agenda for jobs including: Better education, more and cleaner energy, rebuilding our infrastructure and fair, simple tax reform. Oklahoma is blessed with a booming oil and gas industry that is creating jobs and contributing to a robust economy in parts of Oklahoma. But in many Oklahoma communities populations keep shrinking, and with no job prospects for their youth to stay in the community, many small towns are struggling to survive. Growing up in Oklahoma, the heartland of America and small-town America was very special for me. I want to do everything I can to revitalize rural America. My no. 1 priority in Congress will be rural economic development.
What are your ideas with respect to the future of Social Security, Medicare and the social safety net for the poor?
Robbins: This is a difficult issue that will take everyone working together to solve. The continued nasty partisanship exhibited in Congress will not be the answer that is for sure. The desired end result of course is sustainable financing and solvency for Social Security and Medicare so that senior’s can live out their lives with dignity. I am willing to tackle this very difficult issue by listening to all sides. I will level with the public so that they understand why sacrifice, give-and-take, will likely be required of all of us. Together we can solve this dilemma.
Murray: On Social Security, in order to fund Social Security into the future the federal government must pay back what was borrowed decades ago. Also, too much federal money from Congress is being spent investigating and harassing social security disability recipients, when the majority of the recipients have had to have their disability confirmed by a federal judge when suing the government to get their disability after going through the agencies long process in the first place. On Medicare, Murray believes we can’t make any further cuts to Medicare. The gap in coverage that is passed along to the patient with supplemental insurance costs is already too significant. The Democrats proposed a small increase to premiums that would keep Medicare benefits in place; however Republican efforts derailed that policy. Murray will look at the proposal again along with other policy to sponsor. It is paramount that Medicare not be disassembled and must be a viable benefit to recipients.
Sanders: I do feel we need to modify these programs to ensure that there is not just a net, but an adequate one for those who need it. That means we should adequately fund them (with modest tax increases and benefits on a needs-based scale). Also, a law or amendment to keep Social Security/Medicare funds from being part of the governments “general budget,” and reserved only for those it is intended to support.
Story updated on June 21, 2012