Candidates For District Attorney Spar At Keystone Forum – Cleveland American

 The Keystone Peninsula Property Owners Association welcomed members, community friends and guest speakers, Rex Duncan and Jeff Jones to its monthly meeting at the Westport Community Center Monday, Oct. 11.

 The meeting served as a forum/debate between Duncan and Jones, candidates for the office of District Attorney for Pawnee and Osage counties. Acting as moderator for the candidate forum program was guest Rusty Ferguson, publisher and editor of The Cleveland American, who came fully prepared with questions for the candidates to answer while the audience wrote their questions on cards to be discussed later.

 Each candidate was given five minutes for their opening statement.  Jones, First Assistant District Attorney for Osage and Pawnee Counties, was given the floor first.  He introduced his wife, Teri, of 30 years, and mentioned their two married daughters, one granddaughter and expected grandson.

 Jones graduated from Skiatook High School in 1976 before going on to Oklahoma State University where he graduated with two business degrees in 1980.  He paid his way through law school working as a UPS driver and graduated from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1999 with a Juris Doctor degree.  He has worked for the District Attorney’s office since 2002, and has worked as First Assistant District Attorney since 2006.

 He thanked the audience for voting for the new Pawnee County Jail explaining it was much needed as the current jail is very inadequate and antiquated. He praised law enforcement officers for making a difference in the work load in the District Attorney’s office by their keeping the crime rate down, describing it as the lowest in all of Oklahoma’s counties.However, there were 548 warrants for bogus check writers outstanding in Pawnee County and 671 in Osage County.

 He concluded his opening remarks by saying he had been prosecuting criminals for seven years and “doing my job every day.”

 Duncan introduced his wife, Amy, and said they had three small daughters at home.  He said he decided to step down from his position as State Representative of District 35 when he heard that Larry Stuart, Osage and Pawnee County District Attorney of 32 years, was retiring.

 Duncan graduated from Oklahoma University and then went on to graduate from Oklahoma City University Law School.  He has more than 22 years of legal experience and has worked as a prosecutor.  For the past six years he has been a voice for law enforcement and consumers in the Oklahoma Legislature as well

as serving his nation with honor and integrity in the military. He is currently a Colonel  in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and is a commander of the 189th Regiment.

 He feels that the crime rate is not as low as it should be and believes a new District Attorney will make a difference and give criminals the message that Pawnee and Osage counties are not a “crime sanctuary.”  He noted that he has prosecuted lawbreakers in 19 jury trials and won 17 of those.

 In answer to Ferguson’s question regarding, if elected, how they would split their time between the two counties, both men agreed that since Osage County was the larger of the two counties that they would work three days in the Pawhuska office there and  then two days in Pawnee.

 “How seriously would you take punishing crimes against children?” Ferguson asked.

 “To the max,” Jones replied. 

 “Harsh, strong and harsh,” Duncan answered. He went on to add that if he had his druthers, the first offense against children would be life without parole and the second conviction for raping a child would be the death penalty.

 Both men shed considerable light on State Question 744 regarding the State of Oklahoma providing money to support common schools.  Duncan said this piece of legislation, if passed, will cost the taxpayers $1 billion annually and the cost would go up, never down, each succeeding year.  There would be serious cut-backs in other areas of state-funded government, such as roads and bridges and other public services such as the judicial system and/or increase taxes to pay for it.

 “Bad idea,” they both agreed.

 “As DA, what would you do with drunk drivers?” the moderator inquired.  Both agreed that when a person has reached a felony DUI status, they have already had several arrests, therefore, the felon would now do jail time.

  Duncan added that he had doubled the penalty for repeat offenders, now making it 20 years.

 Ferguson asked the candidates to comment on State Question 755.

  As author of SQ 755, Duncan said, “Sharia Law is a competing constitution against each state’s constitution, and we would lose our courts to political law if we allowed it.  This is already happening in America in New Jersey.” 

 Jones said, “Vote yes for 755. We don’t need international laws in our courts.  Just Oklahoma laws.”

 Next, the moderator asked both candidates to talk about SQ 751, making English the official language in Oklahoma.

 Duncan explained that well over 200 languages could be demanded if English were not the official language and that would call for that many forms and books to be printed plus that many interpreters hired.  The cost would be $50,000 per language for the driver’s license manual alone.  Jones heartily agreed, “English, and only English,” he said.

 Talking about the good values of a grand jury, the question came up regarding current news of deciding if Pawnee County Sheriff Roger Price and County Commission Dale Vance should be paid while under suspension. Jones said this had never come up before in the history of the county, therefore, a ruling from the Attorney General’s office was being requested.  Duncan added, “Innocent until proven guilty.”

 When asked to elaborate on illegal immigrants, Jones said they were a big problem and could actually fill the jail.  Duncan  said, “You do not want to make illegal immigrants U.S. citizens.”

 Former Pawnee County Commissioner, Bill Hickson, now a member of the  Silver-Headed Legislature, asked, “What can be done for our seniors?”  to which Duncan replied, “To the monsters who prey on seniors and those in nursing homes, harsh severe punishment.”

 Jones said  Lindsey Haney in the DHS Office in Pawnee was excellent in handling senior situations and that Pawnee County took better care of seniors than Osage County.

 In his closing remarks, Duncan said, “The DA’s office is described as a tough man’s contest.  He has to be aggressive.  I will go after those criminals who are making it costly to live in our counties.  I took on Sharia Law.  I took on GM, Ford and Toyota and worked for five years to put the Lemon Law into effect. Now the consumer has protection from defective automobiles.  I have more jury trial experience.  I have a new set of eyes and ears for this office.  I ask for your vote November 2.”

 Jones talked about his ability to prosecute.  “I’ve worked every level in the DA’s office and I’ve worked many dockets:  felony, misdemeanor, deprived, delinquent and traffic.  The question should now be, “What will the new DA do for Osage/Pawnee Counties?”  I’m going to continue doing what I’ve started. (1.) I started the Cleveland School Truancy Board.  Kids who are not in school are out committing crimes.  If students are missing too many school days, then a letter is sent to the parents and they have to appear before the Truancy Board with their children. The Board is made up with someone from DHS, the DA’s office, Juvenile Authorities and school officials.  (2) Pawnee County has a  domestic violence problem that needs addressing.  The DA’s office is coordinating with police officers, victims’ advocates and counselors from beginning to throughout the trial. (3)  I’ve also been out in the community.  I’ve been to the Cleveland Area Hospital to talk to them about reporting violent crimes.  (4) One thing that other DA offices have that I will try to get is grants for a victim/witness coordinator. Right now we have to borrow one and pay for them when we have a trial in Pawnee County.  (5)  Changes are coming and it will not be business as usual.  Vote for me on November 2. Thank you.”

 KPPOA President Glenn Maharrey thanked both candidates for their remarks, Ferguson for moderating and the “full house” audience for coming. Many stayed long after the meeting was adjourned to speak personally to the candidates and to Ferguson.

 Following a 6 p.m. potluck, the November 8 guest speaker will be Cleveland Postmistress, Tena Moody, who is returning again to speak  regarding the new street addresses. Those who missed her in June, now have one more opportunity to come and get questions answered.  The meeting will start at 7:00 p.m. and the public is welcomed.

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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