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Making History in Oklahoma

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On November 2, 2010, Oklahomans will make history.  How?  We will elect the state’s very first female governor.  The headline election is between Representative Mary Fallin (Republican) and Lt. Governor Jari Askins (Democrat).  Both women bring experience and knowledge to the position, and I’ve been impressed by both in the debates.  Fallin brings to the table her experience as both a member of Congress since 2006 and as a former Lt. Governor, while Askins has severed as Lt. Governor since 2007 and has experience as a judge and as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Of course, both women have their supporters and detractors.  This election has gotten a bit dirty at times, especially the television commercials, but that’s nothing new.  Those opposing Askins say she’s too liberal for Oklahoma, while Fallin’s strict conservative views have concerned some voters.  I won’t say who I’ll be voting for this election, but I will say that I believe either woman will serve our state well.

Aside from the heated race for governor, there’s another major issue on this ballot: State Question 744.  Yes, Oklahomans actually care about a state question for once!  Usually, most voters don’t even know what the questions are about until they’re in the voting booth, but 744 has garnered quite a lot of attention.  It’s about education, and here’s a basic summary of the bill from the Oklahoma Gazette website (http://www.okgazette.com/article/10-26-2010/State_questions_primer.aspx).

744: Education

A “yes” vote changes the way the Legislature determines funding for common education, constitutionally requiring lawmakers to allocate per-pupil funds equivalent to the average of Oklahoma’s six surrounding states.

 A “no” vote maintains the current appropriations process.

Those against the question are mainly concerned with the fact that the question does not say where the funding is coming from.  However, the proponents of the bill say that it will give our children the funds necessary to truly get a good education and that the money will come from cutting overspending and frivolous expenses.

What I find really interesting (and, OK, kind of entertaining!) is that those against 744 actually got a second state question on the ballot: State Question 754.  Here’s a summary:

754: Education

A “yes” vote allows the Legislature to continue to evaluate education allocations on a year-by-year basis, not requiring lawmakers to make funding decisions based on allocations made to any specific cause in other states. SQ 754 aims to override SQ 744.

A “no” vote supports the use of comparisons to other states or entities in setting funding requirements.

Should voters pass both 744 and 754, the one with the most votes will prevail.

I’m glad that at least someone had the presence of mind to add that last clause! 

There are some other interesting questions on the ballot, including one to impose term limits on the governor, lt. governor, and several other elected officials, one to change who does redistricting in the state, and one to make English the language of all “official actions of the state.”

If you live in Oklahoma, be sure to get out and vote on November 2nd.  If you don’t, enjoy reading about our interesting state questions, and watch and see if Mary Fallin or Jari Askins will be our first woman governor.

Other blogs about the election:

The CNN Politics blog by Jeff Simon talks about the gubernatorial election.

Bill Hensley’s Random Blog discusses the state questions, and he gives his thoughts on each.

The NY Times Caucus blog calls this the “Year of the Women” in Oklahoma because of this election.

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