By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — President’s race not the only item of interest in election
With political pundits bantering the names of presidential candidates, it’s easy to forget that the November General Election Ballot carries several local races and issues. Local representatives and county officials make decisions daily that directly affect Oklahomans and Cleveland County residents.
In addition, the ballot will give voters a chance to give their opinions on six state questions. In the coming weeks, The Transcript will provide detailed information on each of the candidates and the state questions.
Residents still can register to vote. The last day for registration to vote in the November general election is Oct. 12.
Voters who are already registered should make sure they have proper identification. A voter registration card serves as ID, or a voter may use other government-approved identification such as a current, valid driver’s license with a photo. The name on the ID should match the name on the voter registration rolls.
During the weeks approaching the election, residents have a chance to update voter registration with any applicable name or address changes.
To make changes to voter registration, send in a new voter registration application to the Cleveland County Election Board, 641 E. Robinson St., Suite 200, Norman, OK 73071. Forms can be downloaded on the Cleveland County Election Board website, www.clevelandcountyelectionboard.com.
People can also stop by the election board office in Norman.
Registration forms also are available online. Voter registration applications also are available at the Cleveland County Election Board, post offices, tag agencies and the Norman Public Library.
People also can change party affiliations at this time. During the primary and runoff season, change of political party was prohibited. As of Sept. 1, voters could, again, change party affiliation if desired. Other registration changes can be made at any time.
To be eligible to register to vote in Cleveland County, a resident must be at least 18 years old and be a United States citizen.
Candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot: At the federal level, U.S. District 4 Congressman Tom Cole, Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Donna Marie Bebo and Independent R.J. Harris.
Harris is a career Army National Guard Officer, a small business owner and an Air Traffic Controller in the Federal Aviation Administration.
Bebo is an Army wife and has learned from the school of hard knocks as a child and later as a single parent.
Cole is currently serving in his fifth term in office. He was elected to Congress in 2002. Congressional representatives are elected every two years.
State races: Cleveland County voters, depending on where they live, will select a state representative. State representatives are elected every two years.
The candidates for State Senate District 15, which includes much of Norman, are Republican Rob Standridge and Democrat Claudia Griffith.
In the Slaughterville area included in State House District 20, the candidates are Republican Bobby Cleveland and Democrat Matt Branstetter.
In the Little Axe area included in State House District 27, the candidates are Republican incumbent Josh Cockroft and Democrat Randy R. Gilbert.
In State House District 45, voters can choose between incumbent Republican Aaron Stiles and Democratic challenger Paula Roberts.
County races: While many county offices were determined during the primary or runoff, voters will elect a Cleveland County court clerk and a sheriff.
Republican challenger Mitchell Slemp and incumbent Democrat Rhonda Hall are running for court clerk.
For sheriff, Independent Kelly Owings is taking on incumbent Republican Joe Lester.
State questions: Out of the six state questions on the ballot, two are related to ad valorem taxes.
State Question No. 758 restricts annual ad valorem increases. The measure lowers the limits on increases in fair cash value. Now, increases are limited to 5 percent of fair cash value in any taxable year. This would further restrict the limit to 3 percent per year on homestead exempted property and agricultural land.
State Question No. 759 prohibits certain preferential treatment or discrimination based on affirmative action programs. The measure deals with three areas of government action, including employment, education and contracting.
State Question No. 762 modifies the power and authority of the governor and pardon and parole board in the parole process for nonviolent offenders by changing current law to decrease the power and authority of the governor by removing the governor from the parole process for persons convicted of certain nonviolent offenses. It enlarges the power and authority of the Pardon and Parole Board by authorizing it to grant parole to persons convicted of certain nonviolent offenses.
State Question No. 764 creates the Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund and allows the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to issue bonds.
State Question No. 765 repeals sections of the State Constitution relating to the Department of Public Welfare, its commission and director; grants the legislature the authority to create and direct the administration of a department to provide for public welfare.
State Question No. 766 exempts all intangible personal property from ad valorem taxation.
Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com