New election, same reformist themes: Rep. David Dank
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Published: 13-Oct-2010

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 13-Oct-2010

David Dank, an Oklahoma City Republican, is widely known as a reformer in the model of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn – although some of Dank’s admirers contend it’s actually Coburn who is in the Dank Model. 

Dank has found voters across the spectrum respond to his legislative niche as a conservative Republican who has been willing to take on party leaders. He is perhaps best regarded as an advocate of further transparency and openness in the Legislature. 

When he announced his run for a new term in June, Dank said, “Unfortunately, there is still clear corruption at our State Capitol. This year we once again saw examples of excessive influence by lobbyists and last-minute legislation being rushed through to give special breaks to narrow interests.”

Rep. Dank, who came to the position after his wife Odilia faced term limits, has seemingly made the MidCity district his own. In an interview, he told CapitolBeatOK:
“Voters have responded well to my agenda, and they know that I am willing to stand up for our shared values.  I was elected to represent District 85, not any one party or interest group. On the occasions when I have said ‘this is not right,’ I've had many members of both parties come to me on the floor and say thank you.”
As an example, “I am skeptical of tax credits that create no real jobs, but only benefit certain industries. That's hardly a partisan issue. It's really an issue about good government and being careful custodians of the taxpayers' money.
“In fact, I rarely speak on the floor on any issue without reminding the other 100 members of the House that this is the public's money we are dealing with.”
This year, Dank faces an independent candidate who self-identifies as a “Green Party” advocate, as well as a Democrat now serving on the Oklahoma City Public School Board .
Asked to comment on the effect that has had in the campaign, Dank said, “This is an interesting election -- I have two opponents instead
of the usual one. It is interesting that they have not been very clear as to where they stand on many of the issues, but it is clear that there are some fundamental differences between us.
“I would say they both represent a very different philosophy than mine. Hopefully they’ll put out more information so the voters will know where they stand on the key issues.”
Encouraged to identify key issues from his perspective, Dank replied, “The three most important issues are those I have worked on since I have been in the Legislature -- property tax reform, ethics and good
stewardship of the public's money.
“As you know, I have sponsored two property tax reform measures, to freeze ad valorem taxes for hard-pressed seniors for as long as they own their homes and to reduce the current annual 5 percent increase cap for all homeowners.
“With no Social Security COLA again this year and with all the other financial pressures on seniors, they do not need an annual property tax increase, which in some cases will simply drive many of them out of their homes and into assisted living or nursing homes, often at public expense. I am confident that these reforms will be heard in the next session.
“On ethics, we took a major step forward when the Legislature finally passed my bill to ban lobbyist contributions during sessions, which in some cases basically amounted to special interests buying bills. I believe in the right of anyone to support candidates of their choice, but not to influence policy with large contributions.
“Finally, the budget crisis of the past two years should teach us once and for all that we can no longer afford to run a 19th century state government in the 21st century. We need to consolidate and streamline the hundreds of state agencies and boards and commissions and reform school administrative structures to put more money into the classroom.”
Making the case succinctly for his own reelection on November 2, Rep. Dank told CapitolBeatOK, “It has been a real honor to represent this district for the past four years. I went into my first campaign determined to be part of the solution, and I think I have. Voters tell me all the time they appreciate my candor, even when I ruffle a few feathers.
“Public service is a privilege, and don't get me wrong, there are many fine and honest and honorable people in the Legislature from both parties. I am proud of my record, and I trust that the voters in District 85 will allow me to continue this work.”

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