Republican Mike Osburn has been representing HD-81 since 2016 and is now defending his seat against Democratic challenger, Jacob Baccus.
The district represents the heart of Edmond and parts of Oklahoma City. Osburn is the assistant majority whip and was preceded by Republican Jason Grau who represented the district from 2010 to 2016 but did not seek re-election.
Both candidates did not respond to Free Press’s request for them to fill out a candidate questionnaire, so the following is a review of each candidate’s platform based on their campaign websites and other research.
With less than a month left until the November elections, Free Press will be providing coverage of races in the Oklahoma City metro area in depth. By doing so, we hope that you, the reader, gain a better understanding of the choices that you will have on November 3.HD81-Reduced
Osburn worked in politics well before he ran for office. After graduating from law school, he worked for various notable Republicans like former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and former Oklahoma U.S. Senator Don Nickles.
The representative also worked for the libertarian-conservative think tank Americans for Prosperity and went on to open his own management firm.
Osburn has been arguably very effective in terms of drafting bills that actually were signed by the governor—he has drafted 10 bills that have become law to be exact.
On his website he does not list his priority issues, however, there is a survey posted that asks constituents what are the most important issues to them. The representative also has a Facebook page where he regularly posts campaign updates.
In a debate between Osburn and his opponent hosted by KOCO, he touted that he helped create the largest rainy-day fund in state history and explained that he participated in a bipartisan interim study about race relations in Oklahoma.
Osburn was criticized last year when it was discovered that his personal firm, Poligram, received $40,000 in service fees for planning an event in honor of the Oklahoma’s speaker of the house.
This is Baccus’s first time running for office and is running an active door-knocking and Facebook-based campaign.
He was inspired to run when he was disillusioned by the lack of willingness from the Oklahoma County Commissioners Office to help fix a road near his parents’ house in Edmond.
According to his website, he started a social media campaign site for the issue and received local news coverage. Eventually, a family friend connected him to a state representative who helped get the road fixed.
“I am running because I want to advocate for those who do not always know how to advocate for themselves,” Baccus wrote on his website. “I want to continue to work for everyone in my district no matter party affiliation or political views because we all need health care, good roads, and great education.”
His main issues are healthcare, education, criminal justice reform, and infrastructure.
He believes that the state should be doing more to help people who have been impacted by the pandemic’s economic downturn.
COVID paid leave
Baccus supports a statewide emergency paid leave program that would allow anyone who has been exposed to the virus to safely quarantine without having to fear losing their job.
Education is important to Baccus because he describes himself as the byproduct of the rural public education system in Oklahoma.
He wants to change how taxing funds education.
“We rely much too heavily on local property taxes to fund our schools. This creates a situation where lower income areas are caught in the cycle of decreasing property values and declining schools,” Baccus wrote.
He also discourages using more money for charter schools rather than public schools and wants a more social-emotional learning style of teaching implemented that veers away from only focusing on tests.
He also advocates for reducing incarceration rates.
“The way we chose to imprison people is just that, a choice. These choices disproportionately affect poor and marginalized communities,” he wrote. “Our choices have led to our staggering incarceration rate.”
In terms of infrastructure, he wants to make sure that there is a more timely process to get rural roads fixed and ensure that money allocated to fixing infrastructure is properly spent.
“We can no longer ignore our roads, bridges, and railways. We have to create a system of oversight for our state’s funds so that the money we have can be spent properly,” Baccus wrote.
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