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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 mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: October 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm •  Published: June 17, 2012
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“I'm very big on making Oklahoma more attractive to all businesses,” said Maus, of Newcastle.

A lower personal income tax rate could lure more businesses to the state, which would result in more revenue from the state's sales taxes as the additional people would be making more purchases, he said.

“It would create more revenue because our jobs and everything would be increasing and our production would be increasing,” Maus said.

He said education standards must be elevated to ensure graduates are employable. He also wants tough laws on crime and illegal immigration.

“It is simply wrong for Oklahoma to allow small businesses who employ illegals to compete in the marketplace with businesses that follow the law,” Maus said.

Gil Hensley

Republican Gil Hensley said he would make sure state spending stays with core services.

“Government can't be everything we want it to ... but we can focus on those core responsibilities of government like infrastructure, public safety and education,” said Hensley, 60. “While there are other things that maybe should be done or could be done, they have to come second.”

Hensley, of Newcastle, said he would support reducing the state's personal income tax rate by cutting state spending.

“Every tax cut has to be broached in the concept of how much money can we save if don't spend money on x, y or z,” he said. “And when you figure out ways to save and trim the fat from government, then you can reduce taxes.”

Hensley said he would like to see the state update and improve its tax code, and take a look at how taxes affect small businesses.

“Not everybody works for a huge conglomerate, and those small businesses are really what keep our economy going,” he said.

Mark Branstetter

Democrat Matt Branstetter, 55, of Noble, said his main focus is economic development.

“The two ways to do that best is through having the best educational system and the best infrastructure — roads and bridges,” he said. “The reason that major companies come to a state is if there's an educated work force that's available. Having Oklahoma routinely rank 49th or 50th in all the states as far as our educational rankings is just terrible.”

Improving the educational standing would require more money as well as looking for ways to cut duplicate spending and waste, he said. He'd like to see some ideas intended to improve schools first be tried in pilot programs.

“If over a decade, we can see success, then it would be something we could take statewide,” he said. “If you tried something statewide and it turns out to be a disaster, then you've hurt an entire generation of children.”

He is opposed to reducing the state's personal income tax.

Rodney Johnson

Democrat Rodney Johnson said he also opposes cutting the personal income tax. Proposals introduced this year were unrealistic, he said.

Johnson, 47, of Noble, said he will look at improving emergency medical services across the state, especially in rural areas, such as those that make up part of House District 20.

He wants to work to improve conditions for small businesses and wants to see whether economic development and incentive programs for big companies could be available for small businesses.

“Stronger growth is going to come through small business innovation and leveling the playing field for small businesses,” he said. “It's not going to come from larger businesses.”

Johnson also supports education and more funding of public schools.

“We should give more autonomy to the teachers in the classroom,” he said. “Have standards but give them more of an opportunity to come up with a solution because I think they're the only ones that really can.”


House District 20

Gil Hensley

Republican

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

Republican

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

Republican

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

Republican

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

Democrat

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

Democrat

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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