Metro Briefs: As Election Day nears, verbal slings and arrows fly 

Election Day is one week away with various state and national seats up for grabs.

The race between Gov. Mary Fallin and Democrat challenger Joe Dorman heads into the final days closer than many had expected, though Fallin remains in the lead, according to numerous polls.

In the latest campaign ad from Fallin, Dorman is painted as a mini-Obama.

“Joe Dorman, he is so much like Obama, why would we ever want him as governor?” the commercial says as a picture of Obama morphs into one of Dorman.
As Fallin attempts to connect Dorman with Obama, Dorman is looking to connect Fallin with Janet Barresi, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction who lost her reelection bid in the Republican primary this summer.

“Fallin + Barresi = ‘Fal-esi’ – Failed Leadership, Walking Hand in Hand,” Dorman’s campaign recently posted on its Facebook page. “In June’s primary election, Oklahomans spoke loud and clear when they voted Barresi out of office, but Barresi was only half of the problem. The other half is Governor Fallin. Together, they continuously ignore Oklahoma educators and work against public education.”

Voters in central Oklahoma will also cast a ballot for a new congressman with Republican Steve Russell and Democrat Al McAffrey, looking to take the seat vacated by Rep. James Lankford, who will also be on the statewide ballot for the U.S. Senate.

Many races for the Legislature were decided over the summer during primary races, but there are a few races in Oklahoma City that could be close. Three Democrats — Collin Walke, John Handy Edwards and Cyndi Munson — are challenging three Republican incumbents in local districts.

Everything’s debatable

With several Republican incumbents favored to win reelection next week, many have avoided debates with their Democratic challenger, likely viewing such an event as a no-win opportunity.

“Stop the games and show up,” Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Matt Silverstein said to Sen. Jim Inhofe, challenging the incumbent to debate him.

Inhofe, who was first elected to the Senate in 1994, has a 30-point lead in most polls. A campaign spokesperson for Inhofe told The Tulsa World there was no desire to give Silverstein “legitimacy” with a debate.

Gov. Mary Fallin agreed to one debate with Rep. Joe Dorman, the Democratic challenger, but has not been interested in any more.

“Time and again, Fallin has refused to agree to more than one debate,” Dorman said last week. “Is she too nervous that her failed policies will once again be exposed in a public forum?”

Democrats accused Republican candidate for Congress Steve Russell of dodging debates with Al McAffrey, claiming Russell agreed to a debate this month but was a no-show. However, the two candidates have agreed to a debate tonight at Picasso Cafe, 3009 Paseo St., as part of KOSU’s “On Tap” event.

click to enlarge Attorney David Slane speaking after fileing a request at the State Supreme Court to remove the State Attorney General from ballet language in the Storm Shelter petition, 11-06-13.  mh
  • Attorney David Slane speaking after fileing a request at the State Supreme Court to remove the State Attorney General from ballet language in the Storm Shelter petition, 11-06-13. mh

Petition efforts fall short

Petition efforts for school storm shelters and marijuana legalization both failed to gain enough signatures to force a public vote on the November ballot.

David Slane, an Oklahoma City attorney who worked with the storm shelter petition group, said an initiative petition has never made it onto the state ballot.

He blamed Oklahoma’s system for collecting signatures for the petition failure and called on lawmakers to change the rules.

By the numbers

$80,000. That’s how much the Oklahoma City Public School District will spend this year to provide counseling services to its employees. An agreement with Deer Oaks, a behavioral health organization, will offer employees 24-hour access to a counselor.
click to enlarge Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Robert Neu prepares for his new position. Photo/Shannon Cornman - SHANNON CORNMAN
  • Shannon Cornman
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Robert Neu prepares for his new position. Photo/Shannon Cornman

Say what?

“This is a game-changer.”

That’s what OKC schools superintendent Robert Neu said about this week’s PSAT test, which will be offered to every freshman and sophomore student in the district.

Free access to the test is something Neu also launched during his prior superintendent job in Federal Way, Washington. This summer, he said it was one of the first changes he wanted to make in Oklahoma City.

“[The tests were taken] during the school day, so it was an equity issue,” Neu said in an interview this summer. “So many of our kids don’t have transportation, don’t have resources to get to school on a Saturday to take the test and don’t have $80 to pay for the test.”

The policy raised Federal Way’s partition in the SAT from 25 percent to 94 percent.

“Students who didn’t think they had the skills performed at a level [on the test] that surprised them, and all of a sudden, they thought, ‘I can be that student. I can be college-bound. I can be in the more rigorous programs of study.’”

Stonecipher seeks Ward 8 seat

Mark Stonecipher, an oil and gas attorney and business owner, has announced his plan to run for the Oklahoma City Council in Ward 8.

Current councilman Pat Ryan is not seeking reelection in the March 3 election. Stonecipher said his experience as the president of his homeowner’s association and serving on the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment has prepared him for public service and that he was asked by Ryan to consider a run for the council.

Council seats in wards 2, 5 and 6 are also up for election in March. Council members Ed Shadid, David Greenwell and Meg Salyer have already announced their plans to seek reelection.

Print headline: Election Day nears, With the next vote only a week away, verbal slings and arrows are now flying.

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