It’s a new old saw that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

It’s election time in Oklahoma. You can’t expect to improve our educational system by continuing to vote for the Republicans who wrecked it. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson and School Supt. candidate John Cox have plans, not platitudes to address this crisis.

The governor’s race highlights another basic difference between the parties. Edmondson has been a public servant with varied experiences at different levels of government; the Republican is a oft-penalized loan shark “outsider.”

The Stephens County District One commissioners race’s offers a similar contrast in experience. Democrat Butch Graham has served as the elected County Assessor and as Comanche city manager. His opponent has business experience though not as much as Graham.

Mark Myles faces Scott Pruitt’s right-hand man, appointed by Failing Mary in the attorney general’s race. One vote is for consumer protection. The other for continued corporate favoritism.

Ashley Nicole McCray is running for corporation commission against a guy who has been serving the corporations for 30 years instead of regulating them for the public’s benefit.

Fred Dorrell running for labor commission, and Kimberly Fobbs, insurance commission would also put the interests of everyday Oklahomans ahead of the corporations who use complicit GOP lackeys to pile up plundering profits at our expense.

And, remember, the Republican-controlled Congress has put a bulls-eye on Social Security and Medicare, aiming to slash funding in order to pay for its tax-cut gift to the richest among us. Mary Brannon in Congress would protect our earned benefits.

Quit complaining about bad governance. The system is not broke. The ones operating should be charged with malpractice and shown the door. Another election also means more state questions. And another chance to insist that such questions be limited to general elections where state law ensures that everyone can vote.

We have five proposed constitutional amendments to consider Nov. 6.

SQ 793 has probably generated the most attention. It would allow optometrists or opticians “to practice within a retail mercantile establishment.” Oklahoma is one of only three states where optometrists and opticians are not afforded this right. Those in favor point to the likelihood of more affordable eye care for people on limited or fixed incomes if Wal-Mart and its ilk are allowed into the business model. Opponents question whether the eye care by optometrists and opticians inside retail stores would be as conscientious as optometrists and opticians currently operating outside the box stores. In-store pharmacies indicate they probably would be. I’ve visited four of Duncan’s local eye care facilities. Three of them are staffed by probably the nicest workforces in town. So, a vote For is either voting against friends and neighbors who have served you well or voting to help less fortunate friends and neighbors better afford eye care. Tough call.

SQ 794 would mandate notification of victims and survivors any time the criminal who caused their trauma was set for any kind of hearing on his/her case. While this should avoid situations such as a prisoner being released without even the district attorney being aware of the proceedings, opponents say Oklahoma already has some of the strongest victims’ rights laws on the books. Others worry that this would create an unfunded mandate (the designated notifier) for cash-strapped counties.

SQ 796 would have the governor and lieutenant governor run as a ticket. This is one of those, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” measures that deserves a resounding “No.”

SQ 800 would siphon 5 percent of moneys raised by the (too-low) Gross Production Tax into an “Oklahoma Vision Fund” as if the state doesn’t already have two such rainy-day provisions and regular abysmal shortfalls to fund basic governmental operations. Such false frugality undercuts state services to the benefit of those who would like to see them eliminated or privatized for greater “efficiency.” We don’t need this.

SQ 801 would let school districts dip into money currently earmarked for building maintenance needs to use in other areas. This alleged greater flexibility is a dodge to shift more school funding away from the Legislature, which is charged with funding public education, to local school districts. Let/make the locals increase taxes while the Lege touts its failure to fund schools as fiscal conservatism. I don’t think so.

(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

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