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March 7, 1996

The outcome of next Tuesday's election will be eagerly awaited by virtually all Oklahomans. State question 669 is a hot and controversial topic but many voters still do not have a clear understanding of its ramifications despite a plethora of public debates on the issue here in Perry and elsewhere, plus extensive coverage in all the media. How do local folks feel about it? Depends on who you ask. It's hard to say.

Republican voters also will express their feelings Tuesday in a presidential primary, which I believe is the state's first. So far all I have detected is a great groundswell of indifference among my GOP friends, but supporters of Sen. Dole and one or two of the others have been trying to stir up some excitement. There must be a lot more interest than I thought. Minnie Welch, secretary of the county election board, has been swamped with requests for absentee ballots and she expects a big turnout Tuesday.

As a matter of fact, based on early indications, Minnie believes the total vote may be as great as in a presidential election. All elections are important in our free society. Whatever your feelings about the issues, go to the polls and do your duty as a good citizen next Tuesday.

Speaking of Minnie Welch, she is looking bright and chipper these days despite a long-running series of health problems, including major surgery. Her latest problem has been an allergic reaction in her right hand after, some sort of sticker lodged there in December. At one time it was feared she might lose the entire hand but the infection is improving with treatment and the surgery apparently will not be necessary. That condition plus two heart attacks, a broken back, broken wrist, foot surgery, staph infection and assorted other problems have dealt Minnie some severe blows during the past two and a half years. Through it all she has maintained a positive outlook, and she gratefully acknowledges all the prayers that have been said on her behalf.

In addition to Minnie; members of our county election board are Bill Haynes of Perry, Republican representative and chairman; and Ernest Shyrock of Sumner, Democrat representative and vice chairman. All three deserve our thanks for the time they spend making sure elections are carried out in strict accordance with the statutes. They'll be busier than usual this year because of the major races to be settled next November. Say "thanks" next time you see one of them.

In the meantime, be thinking about State Question 669 and decide how you'll vote. If you're a Republican, give serious consideration to the qualifications of all the candidates and select the one you believe can best lead this nation in the troubled times ahead. Our Oklahoma preferential primary won't determine the eventual party nominee, but at least we can let the rest of the country know how we feel at this stage of the campaign.