Candidates for the Oklahoma state House of Representatives District 25 seat discussed a variety of issues Friday morning in a forum held at J.D.’s Cafe in Ada. Republican incumbent Todd Thomsen and Democrat challenger Gary Starns each fielded a dozen questions with responses being limited to two minutes apiece.

Both candidates highlighted what they’d like to focus on during the next legislative session as well as what legislation they’d support. Both candidates established themselves as firmly pro-life and both agreed legislation allowing concealed weapons on university campuses wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Starns said he would support a sales tax exemption on groceries as long as an alternative means of funding could be found for cities that depend on the tax proceeds for operational costs.

Thomsen, who said a similar bill was in the legislature last year, said he would support a grocery sales tax exemption. A bill was presented to the House last year that would have provided a sales tax exemption. It was tabled in the House by a slim one-vote majority; one of those majority votes was Thomsen’s.

Thomsen said in closing that it had been an honor and a humbling experience serving the people of District 25. Starns said he hoped to have the chance to utilize the dollar in ways that best support the people of District 25.

Questions for the candidates were chosen from a larger pool submitted from the public. The 12 questions appearing in the debate were shown to the candidates prior to the event. Candidates were also allotted time for opening and closing statements.

Starns gave his opening statement first, using the time to speak about his experience serving as Pontotoc County Commissioner for District 1 and on serving on the board for a wide variety of different organizations. “If elected, I’ll always remember who elected me,” he said in closing.

Thomsen opened by briefly discussing his previous experience in the House and what he’s learned from being a part of it.

“The Bible says that you need to be quick to listen and slow to speak,” he said. Thomsen said some of his experience also comes from life experience; as the provider for a single-income family, he said he’s had to learn how to be as penny-pinching as possible. That insight has applied to his service in the House, he said.

Each candidate took turns fielding questions. Both had their own distinctive style in answering.

Thomsen prefaced most of his questions with examples of similar matters or issues he’d seen in previous legislative sessions, tying it in to how he would handle similar issues in the future.

Starns, on the other hand, answered all of the questions quickly and concisely, rarely if ever using his full allotted time on any individual question.

The forum was scheduled by the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce as part of its Legislative Breakfast events, and the breakfast was sponsored by Citizens Bank.

October’s legislative breakfast will be the last of the year; no November or December breakfasts will be held.