What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?
The major issue in the State remains the insufficient budget for virtually every core function of government, particularly regarding children’s issues, education, healthcare, mental health, child welfare, etc. We absolutely need to more adequately fund government services. Just today, I ran into a DHS child welfare case worker that I had worked with for years. She informed me that she left DHS 3 years ago and every other experienced worker including all of the supervisors have left or are immediately leaving to pursue other endeavors. This is inexcusable.
I have been a big proponent of Criminal Justice Reform. We incarcerate too many people in general which means too many parents are separated from their children by incarceration. I will continue to work on that. Treatment and prevention are far better for the family than incarceration, and much cheaper.
What have you done to support children prior to this election?
I worked for 20 years in the DA office, the last 12 of which I handled every child related case from deprived, delinquent, truancy and prosecuting all physical and sexual abuse cases where a child was the victim and all the child neglect criminal prosecutions. I was a Commissioner on OCCY for 15 years and served 3 terms as Chairman. Locally, I was Vice-Chairman of POCI, the local community youth coalition for several years. I was the leader of our local Children’s Advocacy Center MDT for years. When I was DA and CAC’s were being first set up in the State, I made sure we had one in each county of my DA district because I saw how important their work is. We are the only multi-county DA District in the State that has a CAC in each county. I set up our Graduated Sanctions program as DA and continue to serve as the President of the Board today. We have one of the few remaining programs left in the State, and OJA continues to tell us it is one of the most successful. I also serve as a panel member, meeting with the families every two weeks. I have been a Boy Scout Scoutmaster and the Troop Committee Chairman for almost 30 years. I have coached youth baseball and basketball for probably about a dozen seasons. I served as the high school CCD instructor for a couple of years in my Parish. I have helped or have been or … (OVER WORD LIMIT)
What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected?
I believe I have a strong voting record on family issues and will continue to work on those issues just as in my past two terms. I opposed the elimination of the Earned Income Credit and would certainly work to restore it. I have introduced legislation to raise the smoking age to 21 as that has proven results of reducing teen smoking and I will continue to work for that goal. Again, a strong and free public education system is the great equalizer in our society and I will oppose every effort to weaken it further and will continue to fight to improve public education across the State.