By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer
District 9’s incumbent state senator took home the vote Tuesday, winning with nearly three times as many votes as his opponent.
State Sen. Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee, took 74 percent of the vote, or 12,962 votes, to opponent Barney Taylor’s 26 percent, or 4,557 votes.
Garrison is looking forward to the next legislative session. Funding public education, pushing natural gas as an alternative energy source and taking care of veterans are some of his top priorities, he said.
Oklahoma is a top producer of natural gas, but, Garrison said, there are wells not producing because of lack of demand.
“But if we can get our vehicles converted to compressed natural gas and we could write legislation that a major part of the increased revenue from gross production taxes could go to education funding, then we could help make up the deficit with not only education, but corrections and human services,” he said.
Improving Oklahoma’s care of veterans is also something Garrison plans to push for in the next legislative session.
Garrison, a member of the Veterans and Military Affairs Senate Committee, said it will definitely look at the seven state veterans’ nursing homes.
“I’m not happy with the stories I’ve heard,” he said. “Those stories will break your heart.”
Garrison said the homes are “grossly underfunded.”
“These are our heroes — they guaranteed our freedom,” Garrison said. “We just cannot turn our back on them. We have to make sure they’re taken care of properly and with dignity.”
Garrison, a rancher who also holds a doctorate of education, also is a member of two Senate education committees.
Garrison authored or co-authored a number of bills related to education, veterans, health care and more during his first two terms.
Most recently, SB 1119 became effective July 1, and requires school districts to provide parents of students with auditory or visual impairments with written information about programs offered by the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur.
Garrison said many parents of children with such impairments are unaware of the vast resources both schools offer.
Additionally, the bill ensures staff assigned to work with those students have access to resources provided by OSB and OSD.
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton
• State Sen. Earl Garrison, 12,962, 74 percent
• Barney Taylor,4.557, 26 percent