Oklahoma Election 2012: August 2012 Archives

Thumbnail image for IVoted.jpgHappy Election Day! Polls open in much of Oklahoma at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

There are no statewide runoffs, but both major parties have a runoff in the 2nd Congressional District. Republicans have runoffs in four State Senate districts (15, 17, 33, 43), and two State House districts (53, 70) -- two of the runoffs, House 70 and Senate 33, are here in the Tulsa area. Democrats have two State House runoffs (14, 88). Many counties have runoffs, including a Republican runoff for Tulsa County Clerk, and there's a scattering of municipal special elections, and local propositions. About two-thirds of the state's precincts in 60 counties will be open for business.

Results should start rolling in soon after 7 p.m. The Oklahoma State Election Board website will update results as they are received from the county election boards. Although results are posted on each precinct door shortly after the polls close, a precinct's results have to be taken to the county election board to be read into the state election computer system.

After some significant difficulties with the outside company that provided election night results earlier this year, the Oklahoma State Election Board has developed its own in-house capability; the templates are already online. Data nuts will be able to download results by precinct for the entire state in one download -- a huge improvement over the previous system.

A few resources as you go to vote:

If you run into any difficulty voting or spot any irregularity, contact the your county election board. The phone number for the Tulsa County Election Board is 918-596-5780.

Posted 1:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 28, 2010. Postdated to remain at the top of the blog through poll closing time.

In case you missed it, here is the video from last month of the only televised debate between State Rep. George Faught of Muskogee and Markwayne Mullin of Coweta, the two candidates in the runoff for the Republican nomination for the Second Congressional District of Oklahoma. The winner of this race will face the winner of a Democratic runoff between Wayne Herriman of Muskogee and Rob Wallace of Fort Gibson.

Oklahoma District 2 Congressional Runoff Debate 2012, George Faught vs. Markwayne Mullin HD from RSU Public TV on Vimeo.

The hubbub over the U. S. Senate race in Missouri, the "macaca" controversy in the 2006 U. S. Senate race in Virginia, all show the destructive power of a careless, clumsy statement, even when it comes from the mouth of a normally articulate politician. And when a politician isn't normally articulate, he's a bomb waiting to explode, taking his own career and the future of his local party and staffers with him. We don't need that kind of distraction in such a key race.

Because this is an open seat in a district that votes Republican in presidential elections by Democrat (just like great-granddaddy) in state and local elections, both sides consider it winnable. It is a key battle in the war to maintain and expand the Republican House majority and to reverse Obamacare.

George Faught has the conservative values we need in Washington, but also the job experience to implement those values. Of more immediate significance, he has the experience and alertness to avoid the Democrats' snares. We don't have to worry about George Faught embarrassing us as the Republican nominee or ultimately as our congressman.

IVoted.jpgFor your convenience, here is a list of the candidates I've endorsed, will be voting for, or otherwise recommend in the August 28, 2012, Oklahoma Republican runoff. Early voting is already underway; as this is a Federal election, early voting ("in-person absentee") began Friday and will be available at the Tulsa County Election Board at 555 N. Denver Ave in Tulsa on Monday, August 27, 2012, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (All county election boards offer early voting at those times; click this link for your county election board's location.)

As I have time, I'll add links to endorsements I've already made, brief notes about those I haven't previously written about. Here's a link to the archive of BatesLine posts about Oklahoma Election 2012.

2nd Congressional District: George Faught: The only candidate with legislative experience, a track record of conservative leadership, and long-time residence in the district. Endorsed by major conservative groups and icons like Mike Huckabee, Phyllis Schlafly, David Barton of Wall Builders, Mike Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Fund, Conservative Women for America PAC, Family Research Council Action PAC, Gun Owners of America PAC, and State Auditor Gary Jones. Faught's gaffe-prone opponent, Markwayne Mullin, has numerous political liabilities ripe for exploitation by the Democratic nominee. For example, Mullin claims to live in the 2nd district, but still claims a homestead exemption on a home in the 1st Congressional District. There's also the matter of the BATF raid on Mullin's business premises and questions about facilitating gun acquisition by a convicted felon in Mullin's employ. If Republicans are to have any hope of gaining this seat from the Democrats, we need a standard-bearer who won't stick his foot in his mouth, someone who has the knowledge and eloquence to explain to yellow-dog Little Dixie Democrats why the Republican Party best represents their values and concerns. George Faught, elected three times in a majority Democrat State House district, has what it takes.

Tulsa County Clerk: Dean Martin: Martin's central theme is greater transparency in county records. His opponent, the current deputy, seems satisfied with a public records system that requires monthly fees and the permission of the county commission for full online access. The Tulsa County Clerk's office needs new vision and direction, and that won't happen under a member of the current leadership team.

House 70: Shane Saunders: Shane's hands-on experience with the legislative process, his personal involvement with the oil and gas industry, his sharp mind, his devotion to his Christian faith and his family, and his affable nature will all be valuable assets not only to the citizens of House District 70, but to the majority Republican caucus and to the State of Oklahoma. Shane's also a new dad, married with a one-year-old daughter.

Disclosure: I do computer data processing work for the Saunders campaign.

This is pretty clever: A Tulsa County voter noticed that his signs supporting Dean Martin for Tulsa County Clerk kept disappearing from his yard. After losing several, he put a GPS tracker in one. It disappeared, too, but they found out who had the sign and a bunch of others besides:

When they followed the tracker, they were able to catch the campaign manager of Pat Key, Lee Alan Belmonte, on video stealing signs.

They called Bixby Police who arrested Belmonte for knowingly concealing stolen property. Officers found more than 30 campaign signs in his vehicle.

Lee_Alan_Belmonte-mugshot-20120826.jpgLee Alan Belmonte, a 59-year-old resident of Bixby, was arrested at 7:57 a.m. this morning by Bixby Police and was booked at 10:37 am at the David L. Moss Correctional Center.

A subsequent report from the Dean Martin campaign says that Belmonte isn't the campaign manager for Key, but he is a Pat Key volunteer and his wife works at the County Clerk's office:

We have received word from sources from the Key campaign that Lee Belmonte isn't the campaign manager. However, we have confirmed he is a volunteer. He claims to have 2 other crews helping him. And his wife works at the County Clerk's office under Pat Key. We know he has been paid in the past for putting up campaign signs. We don't know if he has been paid by Pat Key's campaign to do the same.

You may say this isn't reflection of Pat Key. However, people have given her campaign descriptions of the vehicle and the person stealing the signs in the past 2 weeks. And to not shut Lee down immediately, when they had a description of the vehicle and a partial plate number, well that's for the voters to decide if Pat should be held accountable for Lee's criminal actions...

It's worth mentioning that there is no civil service protection for county employees. They serve at the will of the elected official. While I suspect that any newly elected official would retain most of the worker bees from the previous administration, someone in management may reasonably fear being replaced by someone close to the newly elected official -- strong motivation to help your boss get elected.

MORE: Here's video of more than 30 Dean Martin signs being unloaded from Belmonte's van by the Bixby Police:

Another race that will be decided in the August 28, 2012, runoff election is the race for Tulsa County Clerk. No Democrats filed for the open seat, and none of the three candidates received a majority in the June primary, so the runoff between the top two finishers -- Pat Key and Dean Martin -- will decide who will take over this important county post.

Dean_Martin_County_Clerk.jpgAlthough many people I respect are supporting Key, and although Key bought an ad on this site, I believe it is time for a change in leadership at the County Clerk's office, so I am endorsing Dean Martin for Tulsa County Clerk.

Key is the current chief deputy, running to succeed her boss, Earlene Wilson. Wilson was first elected in 2000 to succeed her boss, Joan Hastings. The County Clerk's job is keeping and providing access to public records, including deeds, contracts, agendas, and meeting minutes. As I wrote before the primary, the current County Clerk's office administration, in which Pat Key has been chief deputy, has dragged its feet in providing complete access to the public, and thus Tulsa County lags badly behind other jurisdictions:

The inconvenience of driving to the county courthouse to get complete information about property transactions is no accident, sadly. It's part of the philosophy of the incumbent, a philosophy I assume is shared by Key, the current deputy. The incumbent administration seems to see public access as a problem to be managed, not as an opportunity to serve the public interest. There's a stark difference between the openness and ease of access to be found on the Oklahoma County Clerk's website compared to what you find on the Tulsa County Clerk's website....

Long-time readers will know that I've long been frustrated by the Earlene Wilson/Pat Key administration's foot-dragging on public disclosure. (Here's a complaint from 2004, a response to a March 2009 Journal Record column by Ted Streuli titled "Tulsa County Clerk Earlene Wilson is picking your pocket," and a concern raised this year when Pat Key might not draw an opponent.) Pat Key was Wilson's deputy throughout Wilson's tenure as County Clerk and never raised a public objection, as far as I've found, to Wilson's access-thwarting policies.

Pat Key seems like a decent person and by all accounts a competent manager. It might be very wise for Dean Martin to keep her on as chief deputy if she were willing to stay. But competent management is not enough when an organization isn't moving in the right direction.

The County Clerk's office needs a new direction, a new guiding vision, a change from the leadership of the last twenty years, which seems stuck in the pre-World Wide Web era. I believe that Dean Martin can bring that kind of leadership to the County Clerk's office.

Dean Martin is a lifelong Tulsan, a graduate of Will Rogers High School and Oklahooma State University. Martin has over 30 years of business experience, including the recruitment, training, and management of personnel. He has been endorsed by County Assessor Ken Yazel, former State Senator Randy Brogdon, and former TU football coach and Tulsa County Republican Vice Chairman Dave Rader.

As Tulsa County Clerk, Dean Martin will also give taxpayers another strong advocate for their interests and public transparency on the Tulsa County Budget Board. The County Clerk is one of eight members of the budget board. Right now, only one member of that budget board believes that all county revenues and expendtitures, including those of authorities and trusts, should be included in the county budget. Dean Martin agrees with County Assessor Ken Yazel that the budget should cover all sources of revenue and all county expenditures. Pat Key's boss didn't support that idea in the budget board meeting this year, and Pat Key hasn't expressed any disagreement with her boss on that point.

I'm also pleased that Dean Martin has come out in opposition to the idiotic Vision2 proposal -- the tax, AA corporate welfare, and pork barrel package put forward by the County Commission for November's ballot. Many elected officials may think Vision2 is poorly thought out, but few will have the courage to speak out against it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will back the vote yes side, much of it from people and companies who stand to make a pile of money if it passes. It's a big help for the opposition when elected officials are willing to speak out against an ill-considered tax, borrow, and spend plan like Vision2. Pat Key has not taken a public stand on the issue.

Dean Martin's vision for greater access and transparency has already encouraged some positive changes in the county clerk's office. The office used to close over lunch hour, and Dean Martin said that as clerk he would have workers stagger their lunch breaks so that the office could remain open. Since so much information is only available by going to the office in person, it's important to keep the office open when people with regular jobs have the opportunity to visit. Sometime recently, this policy was implemented.

Pat Key's campaign has made much Tulsa County's A+ rating from Sunshine Review. As someone who uses government websites to research what I write here, I've always been baffled by that A+, as so much of the information I seek has not been available online. The website's disclaimer page may explain the gap between perception and reality (emphasis added):

Sunshine Review is an online open-content collaborative encyclopedia, that is, a voluntary association of individuals and groups working to develop a common resource of human knowledge. The structure of the project allows anyone with an Internet connection to alter its content. Please be advised that nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by people with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate or reliable information.

That is not to say that you will not find valuable and accurate information in Sunshine Review; much of the time you will. However, Sunshine Review cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. The content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields.

That means it's entirely possible for a Tulsa County employee to have rated the county's website and given it an A+.

As I look at the criteria by which county records are supposed to be graded, it seems to me the county deserves an "incomplete" in most categories. For example, I don't see a checkbook register or credit card receipts posted online, a requirement listed in the budget category. Minutes of past meetings are there for some boards and authorities, but not all.

Some contracts are posted, but many appear to be missing -- e.g. any contracts for the Tulsa County Industrial Authority (TCIA), the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority (TCPFA, aka the Fair Board) contract for the Tulsa State Fair midway, the TCPFA lease agreement for Big Splash, the County Treasurer's contract with the office's outside legal counsel -- and others are missing appendices and attachments -- e.g. the Arabian Horse Show contract. Sunshine Review says that a vendor's campaign contributions should be posted with the contract, but I don't see any campaign contribution info on the website at all.

With incompletes in at least five of 10 categories, Tulsa County's website should have a C at best from Sunshine Review. While there have been some recent improvements -- making it easier to find minutes from the agendas, hotlinking agenda items to backup information, both at least partly as a result of my feedback -- it is not an A+ site, and it's a ridiculous boast to claim that it is. There is plenty of room for improvement, as you can see by comparison to the county website that the Sunshine Review criteria list points to as a paragon of transparency: Anderson Co., South Carolina.

It's time for an honest assessment of Tulsa County's efforts to gather, preserve, and make government information public, in an age when "public" means "online." We need an honest grade, not grade inflation, and a concrete plan for improvement. I see no reason to believe that someone from the current administration would depart from the current administration's foot dragging.

The Tulsa County Clerk's office needs new leadership devoted to convenient and complete public access to public information. Dean Martin has that aim as his vision, and that's why I'm voting for Dean Martin for Tulsa County Clerk.

Early voting begins tomorrow (Friday, August 24, 2012), so it's time (past time, really) for my picks in next Tuesday's (August 28, 2012) runoff election. Here's the first in a series:

Shane_Saunders_sign.jpgHouse District 70: Shane Saunders: This is an open seat -- incumbent Ron Peters has hit the 12-year limit -- and with no Democrat in the race, Tuesday's winner becomes the next State Representative for this Tulsa district. As I wrote in my primary endorsement, I've known Shane now for over a decade. He is a principled, across-the-board conservative on social and fiscal issues, intelligent, thoughtful, articulate, and personable -- all qualities that are essential to a representative who will be effective in accomplishing the right aims at the State Capitol.

In knocking doors in my neighborhood for Shane Saunders, I've heard a common theme from voters who have met both candidates: Both candidates are nice people, both are conservative, but the other guy seems uncomfortable with people, while Shane is friendly, outgoing, and at ease dealing with people. Like it or not, being an effective state rep has a strong social component. To get anything done, you need 51 votes, and to get those votes, you have to build coalitions, which involves listening, conversing, and persuading. If you're a wallflower, you won't advance the conservative cause.

It's also important to know specifics on the issues. It's well and good to have the right principles, but legislators vote on specific legislation, not broad principles. In candidate surveys and forums, Shane Saunders has demonstrated that he understands the details, the nuts and bolts of public policy, and so he can effectively shape policy in accordance with his conservative principles.

It's Shane Saunders's intelligence and personal qualities that have attracted support from groups and individuals who disagree with him on principle and whose support he has not sought. Although he's a strong school choice advocate, consistently pro-life (Shane has walked in the March for Life since he was a teenager), an opponent of corporate welfare and extravagant contracts with public employee unions, he's received unsolicited money and endorsements from organizations completely at odds with his views. I've been told by Shane that his opponent actively sought a meeting with the OEA to get their support. The OEA met with the opponent, but they also contacted Shane for a meeting, as a courtesy to him. Having heard them both, they seem to have been impressed with Shane's candor and knowledge, despite deep disagreements with him on their core issues.

It's an ideal situation: A conservative state representative who stands firm on principle in the face of opposition, but who nevertheless has the respect of his opponents for having his facts straight and making an intelligent case for his point of view.

I'm proud to be Shane Saunders's friend, to be a part of his campaign team, and to urge you to vote for Shane Saunders for State Representative in House District 70.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Election 2012 category from August 2012.

Oklahoma Election 2012: July 2012 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Election 2012: October 2012 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



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