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District 88 candidate Mark Faulk seeks to represent “voice of the people”

Liz Burleson / Red Dirt Report
"I want to be the voice of the people and of those who have been disenfranchised by our extremist government," says Faulk.
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Last month, on March 20, Liberty on Tap OKC held its monthly meeting in Midwest City. Attending the meeting was Mark Faulk, candidate for Oklahoma House District 88. Faulk came to the meeting to explain his views to the libertarian-leaning group.  It was a fun evening of discussion and debate.

After the meeting, I was able to get Faulk to answer some these additional questions about his campaign. 

Red Dirt Report: What made you decide to run for political office?

Mark Faulk: As a lifelong social/political activist, I’ve witnessed increasingly more extreme politics in Oklahoma. Although there are a handful of dedicated people at the state capitol, the vast majority of our elected officials are owned by corporate interests, and in no way represent the will of the people. In contrast, I want to be the voice of the people and of those who have been disenfranchised by our extremist government. As I tell voters in District 88, I want to have the people on speed dial.

RDR: Do you support the right of an individual to cultivate, distribute and/or use marijuana and/or other narcotics? 

MF: First of all, marijuana is in no way a narcotic. In 2012 alone, taxpayers spent over $30 million to arrest and prosecute those arrested for simple marijuana possession. Last month, I filed an initiative petition to allow the voters of Oklahoma City vote on the decriminalization of marijuana, which would reduce municipal penalties to a simple fine similar to a speeding ticket, but I consider that just a first step to an eventual end to the abolition of marijuana in Oklahoma. As for other drugs, I favor a policy of treatment instead of jail time, which would save taxpayer money and end the deliberate destruction to individuals and families from forced incarceration for drugs. 

RDR: Does Oklahoma need to reform its ballot access laws to make the formation of other political parties less restrictive? 

MF: Oklahoma is in serious need of innovative ideas when it comes to politics, and allowing greater access to other political parties is absolutely vital to achieve that goal. As it is, it’s sometimes difficult to even tell the difference between the Democrats and Republicans. 

RDR: What do you feel are the three biggest problems facing Oklahoma right now and what would you do, if elected, to address them? 

MF: The three biggest issues in Oklahoma are all interlinked.

One of the biggest impediments to prosperity in Oklahoma is corporate welfare. I support ending direct and indirect subsidies to corporate welfare queens such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds, and unnecessary tax subsidies to our already successful largest corporations. I support ending the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks given to oil and gas companies for horizontal drilling and fracking. I also support a progressive state income tax, so that our wealthiest citizens pay their fair share. All of those savings and additional revenue can be redirected to supporting our local economy and small businesses, and to public education, mental and physical healthcare, and public safety.

Secondly, I support an end to the War on Drugs in Oklahoma, and to the morally reprehensible and financially unsustainable Prison Industrial Complex, and an end to private prisons in Oklahoma. I also support a total end to the prohibition of marijuana. The savings from reforming our sentencing laws and legally regulating marijuana will easily fund a renaissance in education, infrastructure, and the way we treat addiction, job training, and mental health in Oklahoma.

Third, we have a human rights crisis in Oklahoma. There has been an all out assault on the rights of people of color, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrants’ rights, and the poor. These attacks are unconstitutional, morally wrong, and a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. They need to stop. Now. I would oppose any legislation that restricts these constitutional rights, and in fact, would work to insure that all people are treated equally under the law, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or political or religious beliefs.

RDR: Do you support making it easier for foreigners to live and work in Oklahoma?  

MF: While the people of Oklahoma and the US are fed propaganda about job loss to immigrants from Mexico and other countries, we instead imprison them in privately owned (but publicly funded) detention centers, where major corporations pay $.50 an hour in what amounts to nothing less than slave labor. Our immigration laws are in need of serious reform so that deserving people from other countries can legally work and contribute to our economy and society.

RDR: How would you go about reforming education in Oklahoma? 

MF: My father was a teacher in the Oklahoma City public school system, my daughter is an elementary school teacher, and I taught art and sculpture when I was younger. As a family, we understand the difficulty that teachers face every single day.

Simply put, public schools are the foundation of education, but due to massive underfunding, that foundation is crumbling. Oklahoma is 49th in per student spending for education, and that is simply unacceptable.  I support increased funding for public schools, as well as increased salaries for Oklahoma teachers. I support specialized public magnet schools, and I oppose vouchers. I also support modernizing our schools by giving all students access to handheld computers in lieu of expensive textbooks. 

RDR: What sorts of problems, if any, have been created by the private prison industry in Oklahoma?

MF: For decades, Oklahoma has faced overcrowding in our city, county, and state prisons. Instead of reforming sentencing laws and reducing the number of people in prison, especially nonviolent offenders, Governor Mary Fallin, House Speaker T.W. Shannon, Senator Clark Jolley, and others have sold their souls to the private prisons. Our state spends over $450 million a year in prison expenditures, and that is directly driven by influence from the for profit prison industry. Massive donations made by private prison companies CCA, GEO Group, and Avalon Correctional Services to Oklahoma politicians over the past forty years have derailed any and all efforts to reform our prison system.

RDR: What are your thoughts on the Affordable Care Act? 

MF: While I fully believe that every American deserves to have affordable healthcare, our federal government did almost nothing to actually reform healthcare through the ACA. Instead of taking on the major pharmaceutical companies and the skyrocketing costs of medical care, the government subsidized the monopolies that are the root of the real problem. Until we actually reform the cost of healthcare, we will never have true health reform in the U.S.

Steve Long runs the Otter Limits blog and currently resides in Edmond, Oklahoma.   

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