Three of the four Republican candidates for lieutenant governor will visit Grove on Saturday to take part in a candidate forum.
The candidates include Matt Pinnell, Tulsa, Eddie Fields, Wynona, and Dominique DaMon Block, Oklahoma City.
The fourth contender, Dana Murphy, has indicated to organizers she will be unable to attend.
The forum, set for 1 p.m., Saturday, May 26, will take place at Grove Christian Center, near the corner of Third and Shundi.
Josh Russell, chairman of the Delaware County Republican Party, said the question and answer forum is designed to give people living in northeast Oklahoma a chance to meet the candidates in person.
"Our goal is to provide information to the public so they can make an informed decision [during the primary]," Russell said.
The format for the event will give each candidate approximately two minutes for an introduction.
Russell said the candidates will draw straws to see who goes first and then will alternate who takes the question. If a candidate is mentioned within another candidate's answer specifically, he will be given one minute for rebuttal.
Russell said the candidates will field the same questions. Some will be predetermined, while others will be accepted from participants.
Those wishing to submit a question are asked to arrive at the church by 12:30 p.m. There will be time before and after the forum to talk with the candidates on an individual basis.
Russell expects the forum to last at least an hour and half, giving each candidate a chance to answer a half dozen questions.
"This is a great opportunity to come out and hear from the candidates for lieutenant governor," Russell said. "It's a chance to see what is important to them and [for voters] to make an informed decision.
Meet the candidates
• Matt Pinnell
Matt Pinnell grew up coming to the shores of Grand Lake each summer.
As a "laker," he said, he knows the important role tourism plays within the economy of Oklahoma - especially within northeast Oklahoma.
As the next lieutenant governor, Pinnell said he will serve as the "salesman" for the state, working to promote Grand Lake and other regions within the state, and throughout the country.
He sees the role of lieutenant governor to be one which centers around tourism and economic development.
A small business owner, Pinnell became interested in the position of lieutenant governor as he traveled the 50 states for the Republican National Committee.
"I would say 'I'm Matt Pinnell from Oklahoma,' and be greeted with snickers," Pinnell said. "I began to get a good understanding of just how our Oklahoma brand is perceived [in the country]. It wasn't the Oklahoma I knew."
Pinnell said as lieutenant governor, he would strive to promote Oklahoma in a positive light - and help make the state be a place his kids can be proud to call home.
Pinnell said his experience on the national scene has given him a perspective which will prove beneficial if elected lieutenant governor.
As the second highest elected official in the state, Pinnell said he would not only promote tourism, but also find a way to promote small businesses within the state.
"Small businesses are the backbone of the Oklahoma economy," Pinnell said, adding as lieutenant governor he would strive to not only recruit, but work to retain businesses within the state.
This includes finding ways to promote workforce development and vo-tech/career tech careers to students each year.
He said he would work with the next governor to shore up core services within the state, including education, roads, bridges and other infrastructure needs - which ultimately impact tourism.
"I'm most excited about promoting all the great opportunities we have in the state of Oklahoma," Pinnell said, adding he would like to develop a "fishing trail" similar to the golf trail found within Alabama.
A move, he believes would help reinforce the tourism dollars found connected with the state's shorelines.
"It plays to the strengths of the state," Pinnell said. "We have 200 great lakes in the state of Oklahoma. Why aren't we promoting this economic engine."
At the end of the day, Pinnell said he's a husband and father of four students within the Jenks Public School System.
"I want to help create a state where my kids are going to grow up proud of, and find a job in," Pinnell said. "I want my kids to stay here, and find jobs here.
"... That's what drives me in this race."
• Sen. Eddie Fields
After serving 10 years in the state legislature, first in the House, then Senate, Sen. Eddie Fields (R-Wynona) is ready to take on his next challenge - serving as the lieutenant governor for the state of Oklahoma.
He sees the role, which includes serving as the "CEO for state tourism" as a way to continue the work he began in the legislature.
Fields, who serves in the district made famous by Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman, would like to find ways to increase the state's fourth largest industry.
He believes, using Drummond's example, agri-tourism might hold the key to greater expansion.
"I believe there is one of those [opportunities] in every rural community within the state of Oklahoma," Fields said. "There are more of those stories out there to be told.
"We want to find ways to keep people coming to Oklahoma destinations, not just going out of state."
From Grand Lake, Broken Bow, the Panhandle and all points in between, Fields believes there is a way to bolster the tourism economy and expand it in multiple regions.
"We have more shorelines in Oklahoma than in any other state," Fields said, adding the state tourism opportunities should capitalize on those facts.
"We should be out there selling the state, being the face of the state and promoting it," Fields said. "We need to promote it, and know what we are selling."
He believes whoever serves in the lieutenant governor office next, will need to find a way to help the state improve its image, which means working with the next governor to help solve the current education crisis.
Ultimately, Fields said, he believes serving as the next lieutenant governor, will provide him another chance to give back to his community and state.
"I'm a small business owner, rancher, Christian, father, [and] husband," Fields said. "I'm a simple man who enjoys public service. This is one way I can give back."
• Dominique DaMon Block, Sr.
Dominique DaMon Block, Sr. is running for lieutenant governor because he wants to ensure a conservative Republican is in the role, in the event the state's top job goes to the other party.
"Since monitoring modern elections Oklahoma, history has shown us that whichever party wins the White House, loses the governorship," Block said. "When George H. W. Bush was president, our governor was David Walters. Bill Clinton then became president and our governor was Frank Keating. George W. Bush then won the election to the White House and Brad Henry became governor.
"Later, Barack Obama became president and Mary Fallin was elected governor. Now Donald Trump is president, which means that the next governor is supposed to be a Democrat according to the trend."
Block believes he will bring leadership, as lieutenant governor, to the senate.
"I feel that it is lacking the conservative principles that helped get most of them elected," Block said. "I will immediately take my place as president of the Senate and decide committee chairmanships to help bring in the needed conservative leadership so that we can work to accomplish the platform of the Oklahoma Republican Party."
He believes the biggest challenge for the next lieutenant governor is the state's budget.
"This is one of the many reasons why we need to audit every single state agency to see where the money is going," he said. "We also need to implement zero-based budgeting to require every state agency to be held accountable for every penny."
Block believes he is the only outsider in this race.
"People are tired of establishment figures and party insiders," he said. "They are tired of people with the (R) by their name acting like RINOs and not like Republicans.
"They don’t want to hear anymore Republican rhetoric. They want Republican results, which can be accomplish by passing some of the items in our party’s platform."
Block has served as an officer with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office. In 2013, he created the Office of Multinational Security and Investigations, Inc. and has served as its board chair and chief executive officer and has worked numerous cases from due diligence to intellectual property.
In 2016, he temporarily stepped down from his position at his company to run for the republican nomination of lieutenant governor of Oklahoma in 2018. He is currently a candidate for his Ph.D. in forensic psychology at Walden University.