ADA — Darrell Nemecek and Todd Thomsen, candidates for State Representative, came down on different sides of a question regarding the best way to secure state worker retirement funds Friday at an Ada Area Chamber Legislative Breakfast.

Thomsen, a Republican, and Nemecek, a Democrat, are vying for the District 25 seat vacated by State Rep. Bob Plunk, Democrat, who has been term-limited.

Asked if he thought it wise to allow secure state retirement funds to be moved into less secure investments, Thomsen said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. “The retirement fund is under funded by $8 billion, if I’m not mistaken, so something needs to be done to correct that,” he said. Thomsen said he isn’t in favor of doing anything immediately but gradually, over an extended period of time.

Responding to the same question, Nemecek said he disagrees and prefers not to gamble with retirees’ money. “I’m against that,” he said.

Nemecek said his pressing concerns for the area include completion of a four-lane highway from I-40 to Ada, funding the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET), improving education, funding a new jail for the area, and healthcare. “We’ve got a great start on our four-lane highway and we need it to move goods in and out of our area,” he said.

“We have a great state-of-the-art CLEET facility and we need to ensure it is funded properly,” Nemecek said. Nemecek, who recently retired as captain of campus police at East Central University, said his experience of listening to all parties helped prepare him for being a State Representative. “I want to listen to what people have to say. I had to listen to two sides of issues as a law enforcement officer and I want to do that as a State Representative,” he said.

Thomsen said he favors increasing teacher salaries. “Increasing teacher pay so it’s competitive with the region will help keep teachers here,” he said. Thomsen said character is also an issue in education. “We can point the finger right back at us with kids walking into school with serious issues at home. Character that we lack in some of our family situations influences what happens at our schools,” he said.

Nemecek said he lives in a household full of educators and understands their frustrations. “We need to keep our teachers here and pay them more,” he said. Nemecek said Texas needs to stay South of the Red River and Oklahoma needs to pay teachers enough to keep Texas’ signing bonuses from appearing so attractive.

Thomsen said he is also concerned about healthcare and CLEET funding, as well as illegal immigration. “We need to attack (illegal immigration) sensitively without being discriminatory,” he said.

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