In state House District 74, not just any conservative will do.
Republican candidate for state representative and former Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agent Robert Jerome said he voted for incumbent David Derby, R-Owasso, but feels Derby has not shown the leadership the job requires.
"We need someone not just to cast a few conservative votes and go 'Whoo! I'm good!'" Jerome said. "District 74 absolutely needs someone who will go out there and lead, and champion our ideas and causes."
Jerome and Bob Batterbee, who ran last time as an independent, will face Derby in the Republican primary July 29. There is no Democratic candidate.
The candidates, with their various backgrounds, all said they feel uniquely qualified to be a state representative.
Derby, a chemist, said he helped strengthen drug laws by supporting a bill in 2007 that allowed police to traverse their respected jurisdiction lines to investigate crimes. He was also the House author of the anesthesiologist assistant bill that passed last session, which Derby said improves access to health care.
As a senior field agent with OBN, Jerome said he helped crack down on illicit drugs in the state and learned to communicate effectively with diverse groups. He said working for the state government helped him understand how to improve it.
Batterbee, a small business owner, said he has been lobbying the state and federal government about family issues for 10 years as the state coordinator for The Coalition of Fathers and Children and Fathers for Justice. His own charity, Equal is Equal, promotes equal and shared parenting laws throughout the U.S.
Derby, Jerome, and Batterbee agreed that their constituents want lower taxes, and Derby and Jerome said roads and bridges need attention.
Jerome cited crime prevention and the preservation of Second Amendment rights as significant issues, while Derby said education was critical. Both Jerome and Batterbee said right-to-life issues and family, respectively, were important to the district.
Batterbee alone said the economy was a major issue.
Though all under the wing of the Republican Party, ideological differences arose over whether to invest in making government services more efficient or to just start whittling away. …