By Van Mitchell
Jason Lowe decided he wanted to run for public office after seeing a growing number of young men and women being shipped off to prison for non-violent drug offenses.
He says he wants to create legislation aimed at changing that.
Lowe, an Oklahoma City defense attorney is running as the Democratic candidate for the open seat in House District 97. The seat was vacated by Rep. Mike Shelton who was term limited.
Lowe beat Chris Harrison in the Democratic primary run-off.
“We haven’t had an attorney in this seat for a very long time,” Lowe said. “I want to get in there and make some changes for criminal justice reform. I’m a criminal defense attorney and I see our young men and women being shipped off to prison for non-violent and non-drug trafficking offenses. That is something that I want to change. I see how that is affecting our community and that is one of the main reasons I decided to run.”
Lowe said his campaign platform includes rehabilitation and not incarceration for first offense non-violent drug offenders, responsible and smart policing, better education for students and increased pay for teachers, economic development and improvement incentives for local business owners and encourage more support in educational funding for Langston University.
Lowe said he has also been holding forums on letting constituents know about the numerous state questions on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
“We have been doing a lot of forums,” he said. “I want to make sure my constituents are fully informed and engaged on what the issues are.”
Lowe said he excited about the prospect of serving District 97 constituents.
“I am not a politician,” he said. “I have never run for office a day in my life. It has been phenomenal. They are ready for someone who knows the law and knows the Legislature. I think they are excited about that possibility.”
Tonni Canady, owner of Silvermoon Stockman, a horse boarding facility, is the Republican candidate for House District 97. She is a former Spencer City Council member.
Canaday said she decided to run for a variety of reasons including giving a voice to all the communities in District 97.
“Most of our municipalities in District 97 have similar needs and similar issues,” she said. “We are a whole lot more rural than people realize and we often get overlooked. When we look at these municipalities a lot of people don’t believe they have a voice in their cities.”
Canaday has been a strong proponent of government efficiency and transparency. She created two Facebook pages aimed at letting Spencer residents know where they can report problems or concerns within the community as well as notifying community members of new businesses or other positives happening in town.
Canaday said if elected she wants to change the law where communities under 10,000 would be required to have a complete inventory list of what equipment it has purchased and sold.
“There is no teeth in the law to hold people accountable,” she said. “It is really a matter of pride for me as a business owner to be able to show we know what panel we bought in what year and why we bought it and what we have done with it. I learned accountability in 4-H. If I had not been in 4-H for 10 years I don’t know I would have had the background or education to be able to understand why that balance sheet is so important.”
Canaday also wants to see municipalities under 10,000 be required to have certified code enforcement officers like larger communities do.
“If you live in a municipality under 10,000 your code enforcement officer isn’t required to be certified,” she said. “I want to have legislation that changes that.”
She also wants to see reforms made to CLEET (The Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training) giving that organization more investigative authority.
Canaday said win or lose she will continue to be an advocate for residents in District 97.
“Win or lose I am still going to be out here yelling and fighting for the citizens,” she said. “It doesn’t change me whether I am in office or out of office.”
Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8 and close at 7 p.m.