Race for Governor: Gary Jones
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
On June 26th, Oklahomans will have a chance to go to the polls to pick who they want to represent their party in the gubernatorial election. FOX 25 is profiling the major candidates in all three parties that will appear on the ballot.
“Audit everything” has become a campaign mantra for many running for governor, but for one candidate it is not just a saying it is what he does.
State Auditor Gary Jones has been in office for more than seven years in a position that is dedicated to rooting out corruption and identifying misspending of taxpayer dollars. Jones wants to bring those skills to the governor’s office.
“While there's a lot of good politicians out there, I've got a record of being a good public servant,” Jones told FOX 25.
As auditor, Jones has seen his office's budget shrink but the workload increase.
“We're showing what efficient smaller government looks like,” Jones said, “And that's what we'll do in Oklahoma.”
Jones has fought for more audits of state agencies, but he said the current Republican leadership in both the legislative and executive branch have fought those efforts to bring more accountability to state government.
“There's been five different bills that have either been killed in the Senate or vetoed by the Governor that would have allowed us to go in and do the type of performance audits that need to be done,” Jones said.
Beyond audits, Jones has played other pivotal roles as the capitol. Key parts of his revenue plan that was part of his campaign for Governor were adopted for the compromise that ultimately helped fund the teacher and public employee pay raises.
“The day after “Step Up” failed and I had been presenting my plan to the Republican legislature and they said the Democrats would never go for it; but the day after I mentioned it to a Democrat rep and the next thing you know they're all for it,” Jones said. “Ultimately it's what got teachers a pay raise. [It is a] very, very conservative plan. In fact, two of the items were endorsed by OCPA (Oklahoma Council of Public Affiars) and Dr. [Tom] Coburn.”
One of the only parts of Jones’ initial plans that was not implemented was a five percent production tax on wind energy.
Jones said the state needs a leader that can push for big ideas and one who knows how government operates and where to look for more efficiencies.
“I have a history of identifying problems and getting them solved,” Jones told FOX 25.
However, perhaps the biggest drawback to Jones' campaign potential is his bank account. His campaign war chest is dwarfed by those of other Republican candidates.
“While millionaires and billionaires are supporting my opponents on election day every body counts one,” Jones said. “That means that you as a guy who gets up and goes to work hard to earn a living for your family every day you count the same as the billionaires. What I'm counting on is more working people, who want to truly fix Oklahoma and don't have a special interest that they want to promote, will come on board and support me.”