The Norman Transcript

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February 22, 2013

Sparks: Capitol in big need of repair

NORMAN — Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, is one of a dwindling number of Democrats still in the state legislature. However, he does not see being in the minority party as a hindrance.

“Anyone in the Capitol is as influential as they want to be,” Sparks said. “There’s 149 of us up there, and if you don’t insert yourself in the policy dialogue, no one is going to come to your office looking for your opinion.”

Sparks is a thoughtful decision-maker who says he prefers to mull things over rather than react with sound bites for the media as things are unfolding.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have opinions. His thoughts on the sacred duty of maintaining the state Capitol building are potent.

“The people in charge are acting like slumlords,” Sparks said. “They want all the benefit without any investment costs. If’ you’re going to run the state like a business, you understand you have to invest in the business.

“We are starting another year of orange barriers circling the Capitol because it is not safe to walk through the front doors,” he said. “This is what limited government looks like taken to the extreme.”

The Capitol is more than just a pretty building, Sparks said.

“Our state Capitol building is about 100 years old and it is in dire need of ongoing maintenance,” he said. “The Capitol is not just a ceremonial building — it is a working office building.”

Sparks said he has been fortunate in his committee assignments. He serves on Military and Veterans Affairs, Finance, Rules, Insurance and Education Policy committees and the Education Subcommittee on appropriations.

“I have some of the best committee assignments at the Capitol,” he said. “I have been very fortunate in my tenure in the Senate as far as being at the table when policy issues affecting District 16 as well as the state are under consideration.”

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