Settle's political roots run deep

Thursday, September 14th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ Bill Settle's political roots run deep into the history of Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District, which he hopes to represent in Washington.

``I'm very proud of my Native American heritage,'' says Settle, who is trying to rebound from a second place finish in a three-candidate Democratic primary last month.

Settle, who is one-eighth Creek and one-eighth Cherokee, has stressed his public service and long ties to the 2nd District in his campaign.

Born in Tulsa on the 30th anniversary of statehood, the 62-year-old candidate has lived in the district for 40 years, serving first as city councilman in Muskogee before voters elected him to the House in 1990.

His mother's great-great-grandfather, John Porter, came to Indian Territory in the 1820s. John Porter's grandson, Pleasant Porter, was chief of the Creek Nation and was president of the Sequoyah Convention, a precursor to statehood.

It was a thrill as a young attorney, Settle said, to see his family's role in history in abstracts he perused at county courthouses.

``All of the abstracts and the original allotment deeds have the name Pleasant Porter on them,'' he said in an interview at his Muskogee campaign headquarters. ``Porter, Okla. was named for him, as well as Porter Elementary School in Tulsa.''

Now Settle is emphasizing his own record, saying the race is a matter of trust and experience versus an unknown quantity in Brad Carson, 33-year-old Claremore resident who is making his first run for public office.

Both candidates say they favor a federal patient bill of rights, but Settle says voters should be suspicious of Carson because the law firm his opponent worked for is suing the state to overturn a similar state law Settle helped pass.

``Everybody talks about what they want to do, but when I talk about passing a federal patients' bill of rights, it's not just talk because I've done that in the Legislature,'' said Settle, who rose to the position of chairman of the important House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

He also touts his support of prescription drug legislation and other education and health care initiatives.

``You can look at things like that and when you hear me talk about them, I think people will realize that they can trust me to do what I say I'll do.''

The winner of Tuesday's runoff will face car dealer Andy Ewing of Muskogee, the GOP nominee, in the general election.

To succeed, Settle must make up almost 5,000 votes in the runoff in the district's 18 counties.

The sometimes stoic Settle says he is optimistic. ``We know that we're turning people around. We know that we're picking up the people who did not vote (in the primary). We know the people who supported us early but didn't work very much are now working very hard.''

Before becoming an attorney, Settle taught history and social studies for four years. He also was an adjunct professor of criminal justice for 20 years at Northeastern State University at Tahlequah.

Settle has been a committed Democrat, serving five years as chairman of the Muskogee County Democratic Party, from 1970 to 1975.

Carson says Settle has depended too much on the support of his legislative friends in the primary.

Settle said he is proud of the backing from colleagues and others who have donated to his campaign because ``they know I am honest and I will work hard.''

One reason Settle says he got into the race is that the issues being discussed on both state and federal levels are ones dear to his heart.

``For me, health care has always been the burning issue,'' he said.

Settle and his wife, Kathleen, have three grown children, Lisa, a lawyer; Shelly, a school teacher and Bill, a physician.