By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Voters in House District 101 will have three choices on election day.
Rep. Robert Manger (R-Oklahoma City) will face Democrat Madeline Scott and Libertarian A.J. Bailey in the general election on Nov. 3.
Manger is completing his first term in office after winning the seat in 2018. The retired U.S. Marshall says he strives to be a voice and advocate for his constituents.
“As State Representative, I have demonstrated my ability to listen and be a problem solver, as well as being someone who stays informed and involved in the district,” Manger said. “I believe my lifetime record of public service and my reputation for honesty and hard work reflect who I am as a person and who I will continue to be if re-elected to be the voice of House District 101 at the State Capitol.”
During his first two years in office, Manger says he has followed through on promises.
“I told voters that they could count on me to always be accessible and responsible and I have done that to the best of my ability,” he said.
Manger said that has been exemplified most recently through his work with constituents that had questions and issues with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. He also responded to concerns from Tinker Air Force Base officials by co-sponsoring a bill that would limit wind turbines from encroaching on flight paths near our Air Force bases.
One of the most important legislative triumphs in his first term was helping pass a bill that would give state retirees a cost-of-living adjustment.
“Legislatively, one of the most significant accomplishments in my first term was working to help pass the first COLA increase in 12 years which directly aided many of my constituents who are retired teachers, police officers and firefighters, and other public employees,” he said.
If re-elected to a second term, Manger says he would look forward to continuing work as vice chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Judiciary Committee. He also has served on House committees for Banking, Financial Services and Pension; Judiciary; Public Safety; and Veterans and Military Affairs.
“I am grateful to serve on these committees because they blend well with my background and interests, as well as allow me to interface with people from all walks of life whom I represent in House District 101,” Manger said.
Manger said the state legislature will also need to continue support efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It is still difficult to assess what we could have done differently because we are still in the middle of the pandemic, here and nationally,” he said. “Without question, it will be important for the legislature to assess past and current availability of medical resources and infrastructure to distribute resources as well as determine how we can develop readiness planning for the future.”
The virus has impacted how Manger has reached out to voters during this campaign.
“I have welcomed the opportunity to attend high school football games, as well as business, education, civic, and neighborhood events that were conducted in a safely prescribed manner,” he said. “To ensure that voters have ample information about my background and my legislative record, I have mailed information to voters in the district and included my cell number so they can easily be in touch with me. I have also gone door-to-door and left information and where voters were receptive, have visited with them on their doorstep.”
Scott is a teacher and is making her second run at state office. She said her experiences as a teacher have given her a heart for service and a look into how many Oklahoma families are struggling.
“Working in education and being an advocate for social change has prepared me to work with those in both parties to pass legislation that’s good for everyone, not just a particular group,” she said. “Representative [Robert] Manger is very much a member of the old guard. I bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the table, rather than the same solutions but worded differently.”
Scott ran for House 101 in 2018 because of “lack of leadership” in the district following the Oklahoma teacher walkout. She lost in a primary runoff to John Carpenter who was later defeated by Manger in the general election.
She believes this district is still not being represented.
“I had hoped that our district would be given a voice with the election of our current representative,” she said. “After seeing how our new representative has voted, I was disappointed. I decided to run in the current election when I saw how my students and their families were still not being supported.”
The campaign trail has changed due to COVID-19. Scott said she is still speaking with voters – while maintaining social distancing – and reaching out through texting, phone calls, and emails. The impact of the virus is a common and emotional topic.
“I’ve had some absolutely heartbreaking exchanges with people in my district who have recently lost loved ones due to COVID-19,” Scott said. “I’ve heard from those still waiting for unemployment, weeks after losing their jobs. Many of whom are struggling to make ends meet in the meantime. I’ve met with doctors and those teaching in person, both of which have become completely overwhelmed in recent months. Meeting with these folks has really lit a fire in me to help pull our community out of this.”
Scott said the biggest issues facing House 101 are education, criminal justice reform, unstable funding, and a lack of accessible healthcare options in the more rural corners of the district.
If elected, Scott said her top priorities as a legislator would be to improve funding for core services through diverse revenue streams and criminal justice reforms.
“There is no reason Oklahoma should be leading the country in incarceration,” she said. “I’d focus on restorative justice practices, reintegrating people into the workforce, and addressing the needs of those who need health services rather than jail.”
Scott said her ability to find compromise would make her an effective legislator.
“My goal is to work across the aisle in order to get legislation passed that helps Oklahomans,” she said. “If elected there are a number of bipartisan committees I hope to serve on to foster cooperation and enact real change.”
Bailey has run for House 101 three times before. He ran as a Republican in 2012 and 2014, losing both times to former Rep. Gary Banz. In 2016, Bailey was the Libertarian candidate before he dropped out of the race before the general election.
House 101 includes the eastern part of Midwest City as well as parts of Choctaw, Harrah, Nicoma Park and Oklahoma City.