A teacher and the head of a nonprofit agency face off in Tuesday’s special election to fill the Oklahoma House District 71 seat.
The winner of Tuesday’s special House District 71 election will barely be in office before having to file for the post again.
Whoever wins the Tulsa legislative post will be sworn in after state election officials certify the election results April 10. The three-day filing period for legislative seats starts the next day.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Early voting is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at the Tulsa County Election Board.
Henke and Arthrell each won their Feb. 14 special primary election races handily. Henke won 77 percent of the vote while Arthrell got 86 percent of the vote.
Arthrell, 65, is director of public policy and intergovernmental relations for the Community Service Council in Tulsa, a nonprofit that works to provide health and human services needs.
Residents are telling him their main concern is the economy and to make sure the state has a good education system, he said.
“They want to make sure that funding for education is adequate so that we can have one of the best in the country,” he said. “Everything goes along with building an economy, starting with education both preschool all the way through 12th grade and higher ed and vo-tech.”
Arthrell, said who has worked 33 years at the Community Service Council, said the state should make helping existing businesses in the state grow and to make sure the state has a healthy work force. He also supports adequate funding to repair roads and bridges.
“That will make Oklahoma a place to come to,” he said.
Arthrell said residents don’t understand why many in the Legislature want to cut the state’s personal income tax rate.
“They tell me we need to invest in Oklahoma first,” he said. “We need to make sure that we’re spending our money wisely, it’s being used effectively and that’s what they’d like to see first before anything else.
“We really need to wait and see how our revenue goes,” Arthrell said.
Henke said she’s been knocking doors and calling voters to remind them of Tuesday’s election. Some voters are unaware of the special election.
“We’re the only thing on the ballot,” she said. “I think everybody’s focused on November.”
Henke, a teacher at Riverfield School, a private school in Tulsa, said public schools must be funded properly.
“These testing mandates are a real concern,” she said. “Teachers are having a hard time keeping up with expectations. It’s forcing them to teach to the test and not really digging deep into the curriculum. We need to think about other ways of tracking progress other than just constant testing.”
Henke said she has been following bills in the Legislature that would reduce the state personal income tax from a fraction of a percent to as much as 2 percent next year.
“I support reductions in taxes but when feasible,” she said. “We need to look at a gradual reduction if it works. I don’t think it’s something that can be done in one fell swoop.
“We need to make sure there is funding for core services, Henke said. “Lowering the income tax is something that businesses will look at relocating, but also having good roads and bridges and a strong education system is something that will make us competitive as well.”