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Oklahoma District 59 state representative candidate says wearing swastika in photo was part of a costume

Rodney Hilbert, 42, of Taloga, said he's not a racist. His opponent, incumbent Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, had little to say about Hilbert's swastika. Sanders said he hopes voters focus on each candidate's political experience when they go to the polls.
BY ANN KELLEY Published: June 21, 2012

A candidate for state representative says the swastika he's wearing in a snapshot was part of his Halloween costume.

However, the replica of a Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross awarded to German Nazi heroes on the wall behind him is there because he likes what it stands for, said Republican candidate Rodney Hiebert, 42, of Taloga.

“Traditionally it represents honor and dignity, which frankly is something this country can use more of,” Hiebert said. He is running for House District 59, which includes Kingfisher, Blaine, Canadian, Dewey, Major and Woodward counties.

He said he's not circulating a campaign photograph to counter the one of him wearing a swastika.

Hiebert faces incumbent Rep. Mike Sanders, 36, R-Kingfisher. The race will be decided Tuesday since no Democrats are running.

Sanders said Hiebert wore the swastika the day he filed as a candidate at the state Capitol, although was hesitant say anything critical about his opponent's choice to wear it.

“We live in America, and everyone has the right to put their name on the ballot,” Sanders said.

Hiebert said he is not a racist. He said people of American Indian descent help in his campaign, and he believes more history about indigenous Oklahomans should be taught in schools. He also believes Spanish language classes should be eliminated, and there is no need to incorporate more black history into teachers' lesson plans, he said.

“Mexico is a Third World country and Spain is economically folding,” Hiebert said. “I don't see any reason why our young people need to waste their time learning Spanish.”

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