Q: What do you think are the greatest needs of the area you represent?
A: “Well, I actually represent the whole county, because a lot of the decisions we make in our meetings are for the whole county. But, District One is who elected me, and it’s pretty much the eastern part of Carter County. When I came into office, the biggest need I saw were the roads. The roads were in disrepair from all these oil trucks. The barn needed someone to come in and give them some focus, and when I came in, it was kind of a smooth transition. We’ve been busy on the roads since I took office. I have 230 miles of road in my district and I’ve done roughly 35 miles of asphalt and 76 miles of chip and seal since I’ve been in office, which has been a little over four years. I’ve been able to get $2.1 million in grants to help with the roads, and help us get further with the roads. We also had a courthouse that is at capacity. And with the next census there is a chance that we will have grown and have to add another county judge, and we don’t have space for them. So it was a blessing for the Noble Energy Building to be given to us, that way we’re not having to buy property to put a new building on.”
Q: Will you run again?
A: “Most definitely. You know, this is a job that, you know God gave me a service heart, and I’m a servant of the people. I worked at Michelin for 25 years and I get more fulfillment out of this job because I feel like I’m doing what God meant for me to do.”
Q: What are some challenges rural areas face that cities don’t?
A: “Right now, I would have to say probably water. With the droughts we have had the water tables get lower all the time. Some people’s wells are going dry and they have to get a new well dug.”
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face as a commissioner?
A: “Everyone wants to get their road done first. I look at it as which roads are more traveled, is it a safety hazard, will I have to grind it up and lay a whole new road or can I do a cheaper fix on it like a chip and seal layer over it? Everyone thinks their road is the worst, but when you have 230 miles of road it’s hard to do them all at once. That’s why when I came in I said it’s not going to be an overnight fix. It’s going to take a while.”
Q: Do you think you will ever catch up on the road work, or will there always be roads that are falling apart?
A: “I’d like to think that we will get caught up. We’re building them better than they were before. They weren’t really built for all the heavy truck-traffic before. We’re doing a lot more preservation, like sealing all the cracks, because when winter comes water gets into the cracks and freezes and then you have a pot hole. I’d like to say that there will be a time when we’re caught up.”
Q: How have you seen rural Oklahoma change?
A: “I think in our county, there are getting to be fewer farmers. They’re turning the big farms into housing additions. So, basically rural areas are becoming urban areas, because they’re getting more and more traffic. You know when I was a kid the only cars that drove by my house were the ones that lived on my road. You know, you would know everyone who drove by. Now you don’t know half the people who drive by.”
Q: Do you think that’s something the people who have lived in those rural areas are struggling with?
A: “I would say probably more of the old timers, than the young guys. Because when they made their home out there, they wanted it away from everyone. Now that everyone is building their homes out there, they don’t have the privacy they’re used to. But you know, they’re not ever going to make more land. The land is there.”
Q: Do, you think that the cities are encroaching on the rural areas?
A: “Everyday. You see the people buying land in the country for development, they aren’t buying it for a farm. They’re splitting it up and making it a housing addition. Years ago when someone said they wanted a place in the country they wanted 60-100 acres. Now they want 1-5 acres.”
Q: What is your overall vision for the county?
A: “I would like to see it continue to thrive. I would like to see our county thrive so that these kids don’t have to move to another area or state to find a job. I would like to see them stay home. I don’t want to see the county have to rely on one big industry. I want to see these mom and pop businesses survive too. I want it to have a small town atmosphere with big city luxuries.”
Q: How do you plan to carry out that vision?
A: “I want to try to keep our taxes low, because you will get more business in here with lower taxes. The people won’t be leaving to pay lower taxes somewhere else. So businesses and industries will want to come here. Then that in itself will bring in more tax revenue. We may not be getting as many tax dollars per item, but we will have a higher volume of tax revenue. And the county will have more money then to do things, like fix the roads.”
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge the people of Carter County face?
A: “The challenge in Carter County is the work force getting the wages they deserve. There are a few industries here who get the wages the deserve, but the overall income here is low compared to other states. Especially the school teachers. I would like to see their pay get to where it’s comparable to Kansas and Texas and all the surrounding states.”