Republican candidates vying for the House District 52 seat, currently held by Republican Rep. Charles Ortega, met at the Altus City Auditorium Thursday evening to debate their stance on a variety of topics.
Candidates were asked their views on abortion, the Second Amendment as well as measures to protect classes of persons who feel discriminated against because of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
Hosted by the Southwest Oklahoma Republican Women, moderator Gary Jones, Altus city manager and former State Auditor and Inspector, fielded questions.
Gerrid Hendrix, a CPA in Altus, believes that his 30-plus years’ experience in accounting is what is needed to remedy the state’s “significant challenges” ahead.
“I think that’s an important fact when we figure out that the main things the House does is appropriate funds and prepare the budget,” stated Hendrix.
“Obviously, we’ve got problems with our energy prices and the COVID crisis has created some issues as well. We’re going to be behind on the budget…We’re right at $100 million down just in those two categories in gross production tax and sales tax in the month of May compared to last year.”
If elected, Hendrix stated he would be the only CPA currently serving in the House.
With countless hours of community outreach serving on “many different boards”, restaurateur and former City Councilman Scot Simco believes he understands how to work with a team to investigate discrepancies and prepare a budget.
“When I was on the city council, we didn’t know we were broke until we got in there and me and two others found out we were,” said Simco. “We had to have drastic measures to get our city back in line. Now the city’s standing better than it ever has been. It took team leadership 10 years ago to get Altus where it’s going today.”
Both Simco and Hendrix state they are pro-life and have had discussions about the issue.
“I feel like if it’s a wife and a child and you find out, you know, that there’s an issue, I’d choose my wife,” Simco said.
Hendrix’s response was to get a better understanding between abortion and terminating ectopic pregnancies – a rare but serious condition in which a fertilized egg attaches outside the uterus, typically in the fallopian tube.
“I believe God is the Author of life,” said Hendrix. “God is the Creator of life, and I believe life begins at conception.
“I know we’ve had discussions about the dangers, or the potential of loss of life to a woman with an ectopic pregnancy. I’ve learned more about some of those health issues than I would’ve known before. But I’ve also been told that is not technically considered an abortion because of the situation how that child is formed.
“I am 100% against abortion.
“Now I know that we’ve got an organization in the state that is pushing a bill called SB 13 [which] has got some fatal flaws in it. It has the potential to do away with all of the pro-life legislation that has been past in our state. They have gone after our candidates because they will not say that they are 100% abo-- ‘abolish’ abortion is the word they want to use.
“Issues that are inside that bill, I’d discuss that at length with several representatives, with senators, about the concerns that that brings, as well as legal attorneys, and understand the process of that.”
“What’s your stance on AR-15s, high-capacity magazines and permitless carry?” asked Jones.
Endorsed by the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, Hendrix also earned an AQ rating from the National Rifle Association. an AQ rating “is the highest grade you can get without having held an office previously,” he said.
“I am an absolute Second Amendment guy,” said Hendrix. “The way I read the Second Amendment, your rights shall not be infringed. I own an AR-15. I own several other firearms and my belief is that I ought to have the right to carry, to own, to sell, to trade, to possess whatever firearm that it is I want to have. I believe I ought to have that right.”
Simco replied that he has” several firearms. I believe in the Second Amendment. Some people argue you can’t go hunting with an AR-15, well you can kill lots of pigs [feral hogs] with those.
“This is southwest Oklahoma. This is the United States of America; that’s our right. That’s what we fought for.
Simco responded that he does not know why he was not endorsed by the NRA or the OK2A.
“The OK2A guy, had a nice visit with him on the telephone. He didn’t like some of the things I said apparently. But that’s ok. I do not represent him. I hope to represent southwestern Oklahoma.”
“I think if you have a license for a gun, that’s great. If you don’t want to have a license for you guns, that’s ok. It’s your right. That’s what we fought for.
“It’s a shame though. Walmart doesn’t sell no guns. So, what happened to our rights? You know, they’re taking them away from us. The big stores are.”
In regards to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression “Currently, now there are protected classes, according to the law, race, religion and things like that. There are some that are advocating for making sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to classify them as special classes- protected classes under the law. Would you support that?
Simco: “So if someone thinks that they’re a man, but they’re a woman, that would be protected? I think that should fall into the laws that we already have in place.
Simco said he would like to research the topic more in-depth before making a final word.
With the same question, Hendrix was against those protections.
“My answer would be ‘no’, he said. It’d be no because I believe that God created a man to be a man. And I believe He creates a woman to be a woman. I believe that God created us male and He created us female. That’s what the Scripture teaches us.
“My foundation, even though it may slowly becoming unpopular, is that I believe that’s what the Scripture teaches and that’s the way I stand. Now, I will tell you that I also believe in love and grace. From a standpoint as a believer and a Christian man, I believe that what I need to do, what the Scripture teaches me, is to love all people and to try to draw people towards the Lord to show them about His love.
“Would I want to change the laws to allow that? No. But would I show grace to someone who’s in that situation? I try to do that in my life, day in and day out.”
“It’s obvious we have two people that are passionate about representing the community, and as of 7 o’clock on Tuesday one of these will be the next representative of this district,” Jones concluded.