What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?
Sadly, there are so many challenges for children in Oklahoma today and we as public servants must be mindful of all the things that touch children’s quality of life. Public Education: We must ensure they have access to quality public education and that means paying teachers appropriately, making sure there is a reasonable student/teacher ratio in the classroom for an optimum learning environment, that they have classroom materials that are not old or outdated like the case today in many of our public schools, that our schools are funded so that they no longer have 4-day school weeks…I could go on and on about this. A high quality public education is the right of our children and we owe it to them to provide them with the learning and life skills that come with it so they can be successful productive adults. The other things that concern me that affect children are things like our growing level of poverty and food insecurity in Oklahoma, our insanely high level of incarceration for non-violent offenses which affects the children of these people, the level of trauma our children are exposed to, the struggles our families have to just make ends meet. The list is long, unfortunately, of things we must do better as a state to provide for a better environment for healthy children.
What have you done to support children prior to this election?
I ran for office primarily because I was so upset at the systematic defunding of our public education system and the fact our kiddos were not being given the opportunity to gain the learning and life skills necessary to succeed. Once in office I have fought for greater education funding at every turn, fought for criminal justice reform on many levels as well as with a bi-partisan bill that removed an unfair barrier to getting a public defender, argued for the reinstitution of the Earned Income Tax Credit which would help our families, supported greater funding for our social service agencies that serve families, mothers and children, worked to get children in my area greater access to STEM applied learning programs, volunteered for parent/child advocacy organizations and those that provide after-school programs for underprivileged children.
What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected?
I will continue to fight for increased education funding and reduced classroom sizes, criminal justice reform which includes increasing our capacity for drug court, substance abuse beds, mental health so that we keep non-violent offenders out of incarceration and help families who are struggling, proper funding of our social service agencies, work to decrease the level of food insecurity we are seeing in our public school children. There is a significant list of critical needs that our state faces and we simply must do a better job of recognizing that reality.