MIAMI — First-term Oklahoma State Senator Micheal Bergstrom will square off against James Fuser of Afton in a battle of Republicans for Bergstrom’s Oklahoma Senate District 1 seat in the June 30 Primary Election.
There is no Democratic challenger.
District 1 includes all of Ottawa and Craig counties and portions of Delaware and Mayes counties.
Bergstrom had defeated Dr. John Myers in the 2016 election by a 6,329-4,227 margin in Ottawa County.
Totals for all 52 precincts in the district came in with Bergstrom at 16,923 to Myers 11,582 votes.
Bergstrom succeeded Charles Wyrick, who had termed out.
This will be the first time Fuser, a lifelong Ottawa County farmer and rancher will seek public office.
Fuser had considered a run for the seat about 15 years ago, but opted out because Wyrick is a good friend.
“Politics has always been on the back burner,” Fuser said.
“I just want to be able to tell our story, be able to generate something that we’re kinda missing,” Fuser said. “We have a great opportunity up here. We have a lot of things going for us, but for some reason, once you get past your district, it seems you can’t keep the momentum up.”
A lifelong county resident, he’s been a community volunteer assisting with several organizations, including the Afton Volunteer Fire Department — serving 14 years as chief — as well as the Ottawa County Fair Board, Oklahoma Soybean Association and Oklahoma Farm Bureau.
The economy/budget and education are two of Fuser’s biggest areas of concern.
“We’ve got to get our people back working. Then we need to get the state budget back up where it needs to be. The oil and gas industry, talk about someone taking a hit. When you don’t have any oilrigs drilling, there’s no income.
“How do we make our education better, how do we make tourism better, how do we make our small businesses thrive,” he said. “We need to be able to work together to achieve that. There is no reason why we can’t.
“Usually we always work it out. It’s not a one-guy decision. Those ideas have to be drawn out and then try to structure those where we can improve ourselves. I don’t have the answers.
“I am not an educator, but I know what they need. Classrooms are overcrowded. There are supplies they don’ have. They need that. But until we can get some money or have another avenue to get that in, it’s going to be a struggle.”
Bergstrom spent 17 years in education, most recently at Bluejacket where he taught English and was the yearbook advisor.
“We needed a teacher pay increase, not just because we ranked among the lowest in the nation in teacher pay, but because those in business and economic development told me repeatedly it was a primary reason for industries deciding to locate in states other than Oklahoma,” he said in a release. “I fought for the raise and more classroom funds, and got both.
“Moving forward it is imperative that Oklahoma’s students and their success in the classroom and in life must be a top priority.”
Bergstrom realizes how important tourism is to his district.
“Tourism is the front door to economic development,” he said. “Ottawa and Delaware Counties are the third largest tourist area in Oklahoma and I see extraordinary potential for the region. We have our history, our tribes, our lakes and so much more, plus Route 66. I serve on the Route 66 Centennial Commission and work on tourism regularly with Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell.”
Bergstrom has received the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association’s top award four years in a row and is endorsed by the NRA.
“My commitment to standing up for our rights and freedoms is firm,"
“Because quality rural healthcare is critical, I have supported legislation to help educate and retain more doctors, CRNA’s and other healthcare workers in rural Oklahoma as well as the expansion of telemedicine so we can meet critical needs.
“Agriculture is one of the backbones of Oklahoma’s economy and culture and I see that as being especially true for my district. That is why I have authored and supported legislation to help agriculture and family farmers.”
As a fiscal conservative, he said he is constantly looking for ways to get rid of waste and unnecessary regulations, but at the same time has fought to protect critical services like education, even in extremely difficult times.
“I have worked continually on economic development in Oklahoma and my district and will continue to do so. Northeast Oklahoma, and especially my district, has amazing potential. We have perfect locations for businesses to expand or relocate. We have outstanding airports, the lakes, our history.
Bergstrom said the state is on its way to recovery from COVID-19 and, “though many of my constituents are struggling right now because of it, I see a bright future for our state and our region. Oklahomans are resilient.”