OKLA. CITY — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories about candidates seeking the 5th District Congressional seat. Other candidates who filed for the office April 9-11 are Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, Sen. Clark Jolley, Rep. Mike Turner, Rep. Shane Jett and former state Sen. Steve Russell on the GOP side. Democrats who announced for the seat are retired UCO professor Tom Guild, state Sen. Al McAffrey and Leona Leonard, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Seminole County. Independents who will be on the Nov. 4 ballot are Buddy Ray, of Edmond, Tom Boggs and Robert T. Murphy, of Norman.
Working in the Congressional 1st District office of Congressman Jim Bridenstine was an eye opener for Harvey Sparks, he said. His analytical exposure to Congress has sparked his drive to run for the Congressional 5th District of Oklahoma, said Sparks, R-Oklahoma City.
Sparks has been a pastor for the majority of his professional life. Sixteen months ago, he was asked by 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine to come work in his Washington, D.C., office. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three daughters and a son, ages 10-3.
“We moved back home about two months ago. I tell people we’re unemployed right now. We’re going at this full-time,” Sparks said.
He saw Congress pass continuing resolutions during budget debates. The federal debt ceiling was debated and passed by Congress.
“I got really frustrated at the sense that we’ve got to do what’s in the best interest of our party regardless of whether it’s in the best interest of our country,” Sparks said.
Political consequences should not be the main focus of concern when lawmakers talk about $17 trillion-plus dollars in debt, he said. As of Tuesday, the federal debt had increased to $17.570 trillion dollars and increasing, according to usdebtclock.org. The federal debt per citizen is $55,283. And the debt per taxpayer totals $151,953.
“I just think it’s real short-sighted,” he said. “I think we need people who are willing to make tough decisions and say we are willing to do what’s in the best interest — not just for our country right now — but for the long-term future.”
Sparks’ remedy for lowering the debt would be to cut or significantly scale back some federal departments. The Department of Education on the federal level is not supported by the U.S. Constitution, Sparks said. Education is a state responsibility, he added.
The Environmental Protection Agency is too powerful and should be scaled back, Sparks said. Some regulation is necessary, he said. But the EPA has become a tool for damaging industries, he continued.
“I think a lot of times there are decisions being made based on ideology, or political philosophy, rather than science,” Sparks said.
Every federal program needs to be re-evaluated for redundancy, he said. Different agencies doing the same thing do not need to burden taxpayers with two sets of staff, he said.
“With the military, I would look for inefficiences. I would look at redundancies,” Sparks said. “I can’t get deep into the weeds as far as the military budget, but I assume there are places in the defense program that could become more efficient.”
Providing for the common defense is a primary function of the fedaral government, he said. A strong defense is essential for national security, he said.
“You don’t just do what happened with the sequester where you take an axe and just chop,” he said. Innovation for weapons systems is a fundamental need, he said. So is personnel.
“You say these are the most important things, and you start cutting based on lower priority things,” Sparks said.
Voters will nominate their party’s candidates on June 24 for the statewide primary election. A run-off primary election is set for Aug. 26. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.
TO LEARN MORE about Harvey Sparks, go to http://www.harveysparks.com.