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Mr. Akins Goes to the Capitol Featured

Written by  Donna Deaton Friday, 15 February 2019 20:48
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Poteau High School sophomore David W. (Will) Akins, son of David and Cindy Akins of Poteau, has returned home after a week at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Akins served as a Page for the House of Representatives and specifically for Representative Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau). I was able to sit and visit with Will Friday afternoon about his experience serving as a Page.

 

Will told me about the application process for becoming a Page and that he applied after Rep. Kiger’s election. “Samantha [Kiger] asked me if I’d want to be a Page. I didn’t even think about it. I just said, ‘yes!’ I wasn’t even sure then what it was, but it sounded like something I wanted to do.” Akins was the first Page from House District 3 since Representative Kiger took office. “Lundy wanted me to be the first one.”

 

Akins told me the Page Supervisors and Chaperones told the Page group they were “one of the best Page groups ever” because “we sang Oklahoma! to them.” He also told me how the Page program works.

 

“We all met at the hotel [Sheraton Midwest City Hotel at the Reed Conference Center] Sunday night with the program chaperones. We had an election for the Mock Legislature we would have in the House Chamber later in the week. I was elected Majority Leader that night and then officially in the Chamber. The chaperones helped us a lot.

 

“We had two bills to debate and discuss before we voted on them: HB 1018-7 (school consolidation) and HB 1018-9 (HIV/AIDS classes). We basically acted like the Representatives and did the same things they did while in Session. HB 1018-9 passed both the Mock Legislature and the House. I have a picture of me raising my hand to vote and another where I’m talking to one of the other Pages about the Bill we were debating.”

 

 

 

The Pages were divided into two groups—Red and Blue. One group entered the House Chamber and ran errands for the Representatives while the other group ran errands outside the Chamber for anyone else who needed something. Will’s biggest errand was getting to go to a Representative’s office and “get his laptop and some important papers he needed while they were in Session. Basically, we ran their errands so they could continue doing the business of the State’s government. We started about 8:00 every morning and stayed until 4:30. We worked really hard doing stuff for the Representatives. We had to take the stairs a lot.”

 

After the Session was over for the day, the Pages got to eat dinner in a couple of restaurants and even had pizza and a movie—Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—in one of the Capitol conference rooms. They toured the Oklahoma Emergency Management offices one evening and Bricktown after dinner at The Garage. Will said, “It was really good. I’d give it an 8/10. It’s kind of a Mexican/BBQ place. The luxurious steak house we ate at was not good. The steak was basically almost raw.”

 

While Will was in the Chamber one day, the Representatives were debating and discussing the Constitutional Carry Bill. “There was a lot of discussion and debate from both sides, but the Democrats were mostly just on their phones or rocking in their chairs. It finally was voted on and passed with 70 YAYS and 21 NAYS. The Democrats sit in the front. There aren’t very many of them so you can see them real easy.”

 

Akins said the dress code for Pages was strict. “Everyone had to wear a sport coat. One day this guy had on a nice sweater without a dress coat and he got kicked out. The girls had to wear skirts at least shin length or slacks. You couldn’t wear shorts or tank tops and flip flops. It was pretty much like what the Representatives wore. I wore a tie every day and pretty much a whole suit with nice dress shoes.”

 

When the Representatives weren’t in Session, the Pages could go to their own Representatives and talk to them. Since Rep. Kiger was “pretty busy seeing other people from his district, I didn’t get to see him a lot even though his office was just two doors down from where we had to wait.”

 

Will said he would like to run for office someday. He would “start with the House first after Lundy’s term limit is up, then run for the Senate then work a lot harder and get experience on how state government works then run for governor.” He plans to go to OU and major in Political Science but may go to CASC first and help with the family business for a while longer. For now, he plans to apply to be a Senate Page next so he can “see how the Senate works. I’d like to learn all I can about how our state government works.”

 

Akins’s first taste of politics came this past year when he worked in Rep. Kiger’s campaign. He put up signs, held signs at events, knocked on doors and even walked around the Poteau BalloonFest about 6 hours wearing a sandwich board with Kiger signs on both sides. He said, “I liked helping Lundy. He probably would have gotten fewer votes without me. I think I was instrumental in helping him get elected.” Rep. Kiger responded to this last quote by saying, “Anytime someone helps in a campaign they bring their own energy and help, and I believe Will’s efforts helped me to gain additional votes.”

 

Of the Page Program, Rep. Kiger said, “Any student or adult that experiences time at the Capitol and being around legislators to watch and learn will gain a great deal of information on subjects and protocols that will give them a better perspective of the reality of the legislative process in passing legislation and why some legislation doesn't pass.” Both he and Akins encourage anyone to visit the Capitol and visit with their elected officials and see how the legislative process works.

 

Will got to meet Governor Stitt, Lieutenant Governor Pinnell and Speaker McCall. The gallery photos above are the pictures Akins provided OKWNEWS from the House Photographer and Rep. Kiger. Click each one for a larger image.

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