An energy attorney, an ex-Marine and an octogenarian are competing for the House District 79 nomination in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
HD 79, in southeast Tulsa, is currently represented by Democrat Melissa Provenzano, who will face the GOP nominee in November.
Maria Seidler, 65, is retired from a legal career that included stints representing small natural gas interests and working for one of the nation’s largest electric power providers. She said that experience gives her an edge in understanding and solving complex issues.
“It’s not easy to draft really good legislation that gets the outcomes we want,” Seidler said.
Despite her energy background, Seidler said she is interested in education and health care.
“Now I get to do what’s best for the state instead of special interests,” she said.
Seidler said she would prefer teachers and local school boards have as much flexibility as possible, while acknowledging some oversight is necessary.
“Looking through the statutes on education, I couldn’t believe how much micromanaging there is,” she said.
“Every time we see a problem, we want a fix, so we adopt a new law, but we never go back and see if what we’ve done before is working,” she said. “We pile on and pile on. I wonder if the individual teachers are kind of shackled.”
Clay Iiams, 29, spent eight years in the Marine Corps and is now a welder and cigar store employee. He said Provenzano does not represent his views.
“I’ve always been politically inclined,” he said. “When I look at the representation in my district, my voice is not being heard.”
Iiams said his primary issues are economic development, infrastructure and parental choice.
Parental choice is a term associated with those opposed to mandatory childhood vaccinations. Iiams said he is not opposed to vaccinations but does believe parents should have the final say in the matter — which is essentially current state law.
“One of my big things is that I’m an experienced leader,” Iiams said. “I was in a leadership role in combat. I’m still a young guy with a lot of energy.”
At 85, Margie Alfonso is not as young, but she still has energy. She also has a long history of involvement in the Republican Party, including President Ronald Reagan’s AIDS/HIV initiative in the 1980s.
Alfonso’s website says she supports school vouchers and opposes “nationalized” health care and abortion rights. She supports eliminating the state income tax.
Alfonso could not be reached for this story.