Oklahoma voters had plenty of advice for elected leaders Tuesday.
On election day, Oklahoma Watch reporters asked voters how well they were being represented by elected leaders and what else they wanted state officials to know. Here is a representative sampling of perspectives from voters interviewed in Arcadia, El Reno, Luther, Moore, various sections of Oklahoma City and Tahlequah:
“I don’t think they’re working fast enough. I just think they need to lower the taxes on gas and oil. I have a lot of friends that work for the oil and gas industry, but this is just ridiculous, paying $4.50 a gallon. They need to work faster on it because it’s been going up for the past six months. I don’t know if I’m fond of lowering the grocery taxes. I’m afraid if we lower them we’re going to have to raise some other taxes elsewhere.”
— Barbara Bruce, 76, who voted at Wesley United Methodist Church in El Reno.
“Both sides have major issues, red and blue. With your state officials, it’s harder. TV is just jammed with all kinds of different stuff so really to get that information you have to dig to really know what’s going on in the state.”
— David Schuldt, 54, Moore, who said he is pro-life and was celebrating when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade. Schuldt voted at the Moore Public Schools administration center.
“I feel like they pander and grandstand a lot.”
— Bryan Matthews, 34, Oklahoma City, who after voting at North MacArthur Church of Christ said he cares most about “electing people who are honest and transparent and good at communicating with us.”
When Oklahoma voters went to the polls for Tuesday’s primary elections, Oklahoma Watch reporters met them at precincts in Arcadia, El Reno, Luther, Moore, northwest and south Oklahoma City, and Tahlequah.
“What I like is that they bring the Lord up. That makes me feel good that they’re Christians.”
— Joyce Collins, who after voting at the Capitol City Library said it was time to “do something” with the Oklahoma County jail because “even if those people break the law, they don’t deserve to live like that.”
“It’s all talk, talk, talk. It’s all we’re hearing. We’re seeing no actions or results. Here’s what we need to do: Let’s form a plan and let’s do it. Let’s get it done. Let’s not sit and bicker and bitch about it, let’s get it done. We’re America. We should work together and band together and get this done. Nobody in this country should go hungry or get kicked out of their homes. We have so many resources that people are just out on the streets because they can’t pay their bills. They say ‘we’re going to help,’ but when and where?”
— David Bell, 67, who voted at Wesley United Methodist Church in El Reno.
“I would like to see Oklahoma lead the country in the fight against human trafficking, by making human trafficking or kidnapping a mandatory life sentence. … We’re talking about crimes against women and children, and they invariably affect thousands and thousands of people down the line.”
— Kevin Grant, 61, the son of a single mother who was a DHS social worker. Grant, who voted at the Luther Community Service Center, said he supports women’s rights “whether they’re reproductive or personal or safety issues.”
“I think they’re way off base, or half the side is. I think we need to jack up one corner and put a fire hose in the other end and hose that puppy off.”
— Mike Murphy, 73, Oklahoma City, who voted North MacArthur Church of Christ and listed the economy and voter rights as his top issues.
“We need state representation to take care of the roads in this state. They’re horrible. I drive this road every day, going to the interstate and it’s like riding on a roller coaster. It’s terrible. And I’m tired of driving on Oklahoma roads that are this bad. My tax dollars go to pay for that stuff and I’d sure like to have them taken care of.”
— Swen Nordlang (above), 59, who voted at the Luther Community Service Center. Nordlang listed the “border crisis” as his top issue and wants “somebody to get in there and say, ‘what happened to all the Saudi oil, the Venezuelan oil, the Iraq oil and all the stuff that we used to get?”
“We need to get some reasonable people in the state Legislature. Obviously, what happened with Roe v. Wade is coming down to a state-by-state issue. So, I’m trying to get some reasonable people in there so we could have some real meaningful dialogue.”
— Daria Butler, 65, who voted at St. James AME Church in Arcadia and said he thinks “Oklahoma’s way, way too far to the right.”
“I can’t say that I follow state government as closely as national issues because we haven’t had problems here that I’m aware of. It’s not like Stitt shut down the oil industry.”
— Rick Brown, 69, El Reno, who voted at Wesley United Methodist Church in El Reno and mentioned border security among his top issues.
“All of our state officers at this point are just too bloomin’ soft. They’re soft on all the issues and it makes us in the country retreat to the country because we don’t feel that we have any decent representation that will hold on to Oklahoma values. And the one reason I am in Oklahoma and I moved to California and moved back was because of our values. I think we’re the best kept secret in the nation.”
— Phyllis Dragus, 74, who voted at the Luther Community Service Center.
“I think they should just remember not to always vote down the party line and vote what is best for the community and for the people that they represent instead of leaning to the very left or very right. I’m a religious person, but I also believe that the government and the church should be separate.”
— Carlos Manzano, 32, who voted at Capitol Hill Library in Oklahoma City.
“I used to live in California, and I moved out here 30 years ago and I’m glad I did. I work in the ER and so many people I see there are moving out of California and I see them in the ER and they’re just tired of it out there. I’m very glad I’m in Oklahoma and I feel my conservative views are heard well here.”
— Brent Wilson, who voted at St. James AME Church in Arcadia and said there has to be a better system for learning who to vote for than “these stupid commercials.”
“I’m a staunch constitutionalist so (my priorities are) restoring our freedoms in education and not indoctrinating our kids with leftist propaganda. We home-school, so it doesn’t really affect us. We have opted out of the public school system but I still think it radically needs to be restored for those who can’t opt out.”
— Sherrie DeBell, 50, who voted at the St. James AME Church in Arcadia and added “I wish that I did not need to be an activist, but I can no longer sit by and let people destroy our way of life.”
“They need to do something about education and I think House Bill 1647 will destroy rural schools. It will destroy public education.”
— Diana Thorne, 73, Tahlequah, who said she opposes the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and supports the LGBTQ community.
“I’m tired of the hypocrisy, you know, especially with some of the Republicans. They (say) they’re pro-police, pro-military, and they’re not. They’re pro-police when it’s a black or brown person causing trouble, but if it’s a white person or their kids? ‘Oh, no.’”
— Rebecca Harrington, who voted at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Oklahoma City.
“There are 39 tribes in Oklahoma, and you have to work with those people. And this governor has not really reached out that much to work together in Oklahoma.”
— Bobbie Smith, 68, who voted at UKB Wellness Center in Tahlequah and, like Gov. Stitt, is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
Interviews conducted by: Whitney Bryen from Oklahoma City, Luther and Arcadia; Ari Fife from Tahlequah; Paul Monies from northwest Oklahoma City; Jennifer Palmer from Moore; Lionel Ramos from south Oklahoma City; Keaton Ross from El Reno.