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Simpson, Caudle tackle taxes, veterans' issues

The Daily Ardmoreite - 6/22/2018

June 22--Editor's note: This is part three of a three part series summarizing the responses of area candidates that participated in the June 14Candidate Forum.

The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce and Ardmore Young Professionals hosted a candidate forum Thursday evening for those candidates running in contested primaries this election cycle. The official primary election is slated for June 26, with in person voting June 21, 22, and 23.

Each candidate was asked a series of questions and allotted a short time in which to respond. The full video is available online at Ardmoreite.com/videos. Here are some highlights from each candidate.

Republican candidates for Oklahoma State Senate, District 14:

Frank Simpson

"We've accomplished some pretty significant things in my first eight years," Simpson said, "such as Veteran's issues and reinforcing rural Oklahoma through various measures." Simpson announced an upcoming addition of a Veterans Cemetery in Ardmore as well. Simpson said while the state faces issues, there has been "tremendous progress" which he credits to measures the Legislature has passed in previous years. Simpson worked 20 years in the private sector, which he said gives him insight into the needs of businesses and employers. He also served 26 years in the United States Navy, which he said led to the honor of serving as the head of the veterans committee in the State Senate.

Simpson said that while the wind industry tax incentives are due to cost the state a significant sum of money, other incentive programs kept local industry in place, such as a 2004 measure that kept Michelin in Ardmore and others that brought large employers such as Dollar General Distribution to the area. "When we look at tax incentives, we have to be very careful of the decisions we make," Simpson said. Simpson said the costly wind industry incentives are due to stop much more quickly than some have reported due to action taken by the current Legislature.

As a member of the rural caucus, Simpson said he has fought hard for the rural communities. "We have increased funding to support volunteer fire departments by about 30 percent," Simpson said. Those who live in rural areas, Simpson said, understand the importance of those services, which had been hard hit by cuts over the last several years. Simpson said the Rural Economic Action Plan or REAP was also afforded increased funding to help shore up infrastructure needs across rural Oklahoma communities.

Joe Caudle

"My parents raised me that 'if it doesn't belong to you, you don't take it,'" Joe Caudle said.

He said he entered the race due to tax issues. "I don't see someone voting for the highest tax increase in the state and not drawing an opponent." Caudle said he believes ideas and values are the most important thing when it comes to voting for measures. "I am a conservative first and a Republican second," Caudle said. Caudle said he believed tax incentives are a good thing to bring in new industry, but that they should be short term.

Caudle said Senate Bill 888 would have ended refundable incentives costing approximately $70 million, but his opponent voted for the measure. "We don't up taxes on our number one industry in order to give other industries a break," Caudle said. He said other communities are giving sales tax back to a big box store, which would upset others by favoring one business over another.

"I do believe that lower taxes stimulate economies," Caudle said, "but they should be evenly distributed." Caudle said he would not vote to take additional taxes without the permission of the people.

Caudle said he doesn't see why there should be a problem with something from a rural area not being heard unless the issue was refused by the Speaker. "I know it's a problem that people don't want certain things heard," Caudle said. "I can guarantee you I can get something heard better than [Simpson] can." Caudle said he would like to go up [to the Capitol] for four years and do the job and then come home and take care of business "like the founders did."

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(c)2018 The Daily Ardmoreite, Okla.

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