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The Race for Governor

Mary Fallin (left), Richard Prawdzienski (center), and Joe Dorman (right)

Oklahomans are heading to the polls today with one of the biggest decisions being who will lead the state as Governor.

The incumbent Republican is facing a Democratic and an independent challenger in today’s election.

It’s early evening on a Wednesday at a comic book shop in northwest Oklahoma City as Representative Joe Dorman walks in to meet with people.

Dorman grew up around comics, but tonight he’s here to let people know he’s running for Governor.

In the months leading up to Election Day, the Rush Springs Democrat’s been traveling across the state.

He says he wants to reach out and be a Governor for all Oklahomans.

“Individuals out there who often do not have a voice at the Capitol, those working those minimum wage jobs that often do not have a voice speaking out for them, they want to have someone at the Capitol that understands their needs and concerns and will work for them.”

Dorman says his number one issue is education especially when it comes to the burdens on teachers and students.

“High stakes tests that have been pushed by Mary Fallin and Janet Barresi have been a detriment to how well these kids are doing in schools. It takes time away from learning when they’re having to take a test, the proper resources have not been provided in the classrooms so teachers can do their jobs.”

But, Governor Fallin says she has done great things for education in Oklahoma including initiatives such as third grading reading retention and A through F grading for schools.

She admits there was more she feels she could have done in the realm of education over the past four years.

“Still improving our test scored is very important to me in education. Education is absolutely critical for the future of Oklahoma and especially at a time when Oklahoma’s economy is strong and we have a low unemployment rate.”

Fallin takes much of the credit for the economic uptick in the state since she took office in 2011.

She says Oklahoma gained 103,000 jobs since then and has the 4th largest economic growth in the nation.

The incumbent Republican also takes credit for laws changing Workers Compensation and lawsuits.

She says despite the economic growth there’s more to be done over the next four years.

“We still have pockets of Oklahoma that have higher unemployment rates down in southeastern Oklahoma that don’t have the oil and gas sector. So, we keep talking about ‘how can we create a better climate for small businesses to grow by certainly keeping out taxes low’.”

Dorman and Fallin aren’t alone in the race.

One independent says he’s running to send a message to the Republican Party.

Richard Prawdzienski says he’s the libertarian candidate pushing for individual freedom.

Prawdzienski believes the government is spending too much money on things like bike trails, public education and transportation.

He also supports the decriminalization of marijuana.

“That’s not because I want people to get high. I want them to have the choice. I own me. You own yourself. Let me be me and don’t force me to be like you. And that’s what the Republican Parties are trying to do right now. They want us to be like them and we don’t want to be like them.”

Prawdzienski has run for several different offices over the past few years.

He was about to retire from politics, but decided to come back one last time.

He mostly wants to raise awareness of opening ballot access to third parties rather than the Republican majority rule across the state.

“Stop making special rules and protecting big businesses and letting the poor guy work harder and harder and harder. The Republicans say they’re free market. We control the state. Let’s be free.”

Another independent candidate, Kimberly Willis, told KOSU she was dropping out of the race.

However, she waited till such a late date that her name remains on the ballot.

Polls are open today until 7 p.m.

Michael Cross is the host of KOSU's Morning Edition.
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