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Six candidates running for new Oklahoma House District 20 seat

Four Republicans and two Democrats are seeking the House District 20 seat, which was moved from southern Oklahoma to the Norman area to accommodate the region's growing population.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: October 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm •  Published: June 17, 2012

Four Republicans and two Democrats are vying for a new state House seat south of Norman that covers parts of four counties.

Democrats and Republicans will elect their nominees June 26. With four candidates, it's likely a runoff election will be required for the top two Republican vote getters. The runoff is set for Aug. 28.

A growing population in the Norman area and declining numbers in rural areas led to lawmakers last year to shift House District 20 from southern Oklahoma as part of their redistricting plan.

Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo, now represents HD 20, which covers Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston and Pontotoc counties. He can't seek re-election because of legislative term limits.

The new district, which has southeastern Norman, most of the Noble School District, Slaughterville and Lexington as well as parts of Garvin, McLain and Pottawatomie counties, will take effect after the Nov. 6 general elections.

Bobby Cleveland

Bobby Cleveland said he didn't originally think about running for the post. As chairman of the Cleveland County Republican Committee, he usually helps GOP candidates with their races.

Cleveland, 69, said he wants to reduce state spending. He supports efforts to reduce the state's personal income tax; lawmakers couldn't agree on a plan to reduce the personal income tax, which brings in about $2 billion, or 30 percent, of the money that legislators appropriate.

“We've got to stop spending some place,” he said. “It's going to take somebody who's got enough guts just to say no.”

Cleveland, of Slaughterville, said he is concerned that legislators are passing too many laws.

“When the Democrats were in control, they judged how good a legislator he was by how many bills he passed,” he said. “As Republicans, we should stand for less government, not more. And if we don't watch out, we're going to lose our (majority) position up there if we continue to act like big spenders.”

He said he would like to work on converting all of the state's vehicle fleet to compressed natural gas. The conversion would prompt more CNG filling stations to open.

“Once we accomplish our goal as a state, then we go in and try to get the taxpayers to switch their cars over when they see how economical it is,” he said.

Alon Morrison

Republican Alon Morrison said the open seat made it attractive for him to run this year. His main priority is to give residents their voice back at the state Capitol.

“I don't have any agendas,” said Morrison, of Newcastle. “I don't have any ties to special interest groups or lobbyists. With it being a new district, it's a good start to giving their voice back.

“Most of the time a special interest group or a lobbyist can come in and change a decision by throwing some money around,” he said. “Money gets you elected today.”

Morrison, 36, said he has not accepted large contributions. His campaign so far has operated on about $2,000.

Morrison said he was disappointed it took three legislative sessions for lawmakers to finally pass legislation allowing those with concealed carry permits to openly carry their handguns. Not much is different from the law passed this year than the original measure introduced three years ago.

Morrison said he favors reducing the state's personal income tax rate, but measures introduced this year had problems.

“I want to see a better plan,” he said.

Paul Maus

Republican Paul Maus, 48, said he wants to reduce the personal income tax rate but didn't like the plans presented this year by lawmakers and the governor. He said he was concerned how the state would make up for the lost personal income tax revenue.

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House District 20

Gil Hensley


Home: Newcastle

Age: 60

Occupation: Retired

Political experience: None

Education: Associate of Arts, sociology

Religion: Baptist

Family: Shannon, wife; Natalie, 34, Gilbert III, 32, Joseph, 31, and Brody, 6, children

Bobby Cleveland


Home: Slaughterville

Age: 69

Occupation: Sales/marketing

Political experience: Chairman of the Cleveland County Republican Committee, Republican presidential elector, 2008

Education: Attended Central State University

Religion: Baptist; Bethel Baptist, Norman

Family: Barbara, wife; Rob and Rod, children

Paul Maus


Home: Newcastle

Age: 48

Occupation: Owns an accredited child care center in Norman, works also in the computer industry

Political experience: Ran for a seat on the Norman School Board, 2011

Education: Associate business degree in telecommunications from Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City

Religion: Baptist, Echo Church, Norman

Family: Tammy, wife; Logan, 21, Austin, 18, Jacob, 13, Gracie, 7, and Chandler, 7, children

Alon Morrison


Home: Newcastle

Age: 36

Occupation: Self-employed; private security, security specialist

Political experience: None

Education: Palco High School, 1994; Mid America Christian University, B.S. criminal justice management and ethics, 2008; enrolled at American Military University pursuing a master's degree in security administration

Religion: Christian, Midwest City Church of God

Family: Angelina, wife; Thomas James, 12, Brandon, 10, and Connor, 6, children

Rodney Johnson


Home: Noble

Age: 47

Occupation: Health professions laboratory assistant at Oklahoma City Community College

Political experience: Member of the Cleveland County Democratic Committee

Education: Emergency medical technician

Religion: Protestant

Family: Single

Matt Branstetter


Home: Noble

Age: 55

Occupation: Independent investment adviser

Political experience: None

Education: Bachelor's of business administration and bachelor's of political science, University of Oklahoma

Religion: None

Family: Tracy, wife; Kyla, Erik and Bonnie, children


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