What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?
In office, I will champion improvements to Oklahoma’s public schools and make the full funding of each classroom a top priority. As schools serve not only as places of learning but, for many of Oklahoma’s children, also sources of food security, health care, and general stability, it’s important that the damage caused by a decade of austerity be addressed directly. Beyond this, I will work to properly fund and support state agencies, especially those with a direct impact in the lives of families. In order to continue building an effective Department of Human Services, the state must provide DHS the resources needed to properly recruit, train, and retain staff. I will work to repeal SB 1140, a grossly discriminatory bill which will deny children a stable, safe household based entirely on whether or not the household is headed up by a same-sex couple. I will also stand firm against attempts to bring back bills such as SB 1030, which would implement work requirements on SoonerCare recipients which would have a disastrous impact on lower-income households. I would also like to begin steps on a state level toward expanding access to broadband internet within rural and low-income areas, giving more children access to a wider range of 21st century opportunities.
What have you done to support children prior to this election?
Beginning in my youth, my entire adult life has centered around public service in some fashion or another. In my 20s, I helped coordinate and implement campaigns in support of bond issues in my hometown of Choctaw, leading to special recognition from the superintendent and board of education for my commitment to education. During that same time, I worked as a youth group leader at First Christian Church of Midwest City, working with secondary students as well as volunteering with programs for younger kids, such as Vacation Bible School. Presently, I am entering my 15th year as a high school teacher in Oklahoma public schools, during which time I have taught a wide range of subjects and served as a faculty sponsor for a number of student clubs and organizations. Prior to relocating to Tulsa, I served on the board of directors of the Mid-Del Food Pantry, the food bank serving families in much of eastern Oklahoma County.
What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected?
My platform is fighting for education, healthcare, and a better Oklahoma for families and children. I am a staunch advocate for fulfilling the promise made in Article III of the state constitution and providing children with a quality education, which entails fully funding classrooms and retaining teachers. In order to provide proper health care to the nearly one in ten Oklahoma kids currently uninsured, I will work to end Oklahoma’s status as a “donor state” and expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. I am in favor of restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has been shown to directly benefit working households with young children. Additionally, I will fight efforts to change work requirements to SoonerCare and protect Oklahoma’s most vulnerable households. I will advocate for properly funding state agencies, with a special interest in those protecting vulnerable populations like the Department of Human Services, and for the repeal of laws such as the recently-passed SB 1140, which enacts state-sanctioned discrimination at the expense of children in need of stable homes. In an effort to build a more just state, I would pursue criminal justice reforms in an effort to end our state’s shameful status as the world leader in incarceration, with a focus on reducing the number of women currently incarcerated, especially for nonviolent crimes. I intend to work to implement automatic voter registration as both a fiscally sound measure and as a way to create greater participation and access to the polls for all Oklahomans.