The candidates for House District 93 are ramping up their campaigns and slinging some mud in preparation for the next vote.
Republican incumbent Mike Christian and Democratic primary-winner Wanda Jo Peltier square off for the seat, which governs much of the south-side of Oklahoma City. Both candidates have held office before and know the workings of politics. When asked about their plan of action, both replied with a similar first step: Just talk to voters.
Peltier, 76, won 63 percent of the vote in her primary race against former Capitol reporter Jeff Packham and former Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education member Wilfredo Santos Rivera. Following the primary, Peltier said she began focusing on the needs of the district.
"I will continue to reach out to the voters, listen to their concerns and work to help solve their problems," she said. "I have already served the voters in the Legislature for 10 years and didn't intend to run again. But the need is so great, and the pressure from neighborhood leaders was so strong, here I am."
Peltier served as the representative for District 93 for 10 years, from 1986 to 1996. She said in that time she had never taken money from special interests and always applied herself to her constituents' interests.
"Voters need to know that I, as their legislator, have never taken campaign contributions from special interests, corporate or political action committees and intend to continue depending on voters' support and not on money from those who want something in return," she said.
Just as Peltier wants to focus on the needs of voters, Christian also wishes to send a message to the same group. He was awarded with the Freshman of the Year in the state House of Representatives and wants to remind voters of why he received it.
"I want (voters) to know that I did exactly what I said I would do in the Legislature when I campaigned last election," Christian said. "I probably had more legislation signed into law than any other freshman representative, and more than a vast majority of even the more senior members of the House. For example, I co-authored the bill that put English as the official language of Oklahoma on the upcoming ballot."
If elected, Christian said he would continue pushing issues he's addressed during his time in the House, particularly, illegal immigration.
"I've been working with legislators from across the country to develop legislation to curb the rise of illegal immigration in Oklahoma," he said. "I plan to continue to fight illegal immigration if re-elected. South Oklahoma City is plagued by high crime rates largely due to this issue."
In regards to his opponent, Christian said Peltier's values do not reflect the district.
"Her ultra-liberal voting record when she was a member of the Legislature shows that she does not share the values of south Oklahoma City," he said.
Peltier, on the other hand, believes her opponent isn't suited for the district, either. She said Christian's loyalties are with special-interest groups like "big oil."
"He has spent over $100,000 on each of his two campaigns, so his hands are tied," she said, speaking of the differences between her and Christian. "He owes his allegiance to his campaign contributors and not to us constituents. For example, he sided with 'big oil' against us when he voted to give 'big oil' a $150 million tax break at our expense. Incidentally, 'big oil' had given him campaign contributions totaling $39,500."
Peltier said Christian's attendance record shows a lack of character needed for the office. She said Christian had missed a total of 306 votes and "saved his own neck" in an alleged deal to create a state job for a state senator if she agreed not to seek re-election.
Christian, who has maintained that he is "not guilty" of any allegations, said Peltier is known for slinging mud often and early, and clarified his stance on the scandal.
"District Attorney David Prater is a human being, and like all human beings he can make mistakes," he said. "In this case, he made a mistake by publicly claiming he had evidence that I had done something improper. But he has since apologized to me, and I have forgiven him. Still, it is a shame that there will always be people who will mistakenly believe that I've done something wrong."
Prater said Christian has cooperated with the investigation, and he does not anticipate any charges against Christian at this time.
As for his voting record, Christian said Peltier is confusing types of votes.
"Wanda Jo is trying to mislead the voters by confusing procedural votes with substantive votes," he said. "Missing a vote to allow food on the House floor is hardly an issue the voters will be concerned with. But there is a reason I was voted 'Freshman of the Year' and why I passed so much legislation on behalf of my district. I was active, and I worked hard for the people of south Oklahoma City."
Peltier and Christian will be on the ballot Nov. 2. "Luke Atkinson
top photo State Rep. Mike Christian.
bottom photo Challenger Wanda Jo Peltier. photo/Mark Hancock