Justin Arledge

What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?

I am focused on two aspects of kid’s lives that we need to improve. First, they need a quality education, regardless of what neighborhood and school district they find themselves. This means a returning the funds that have been cut year after year to our schools so we can make sure we are retaining great teachers and attracting new ones, providing up-to-date textbooks and learning materials, and providing a safe and secure environment where learning is their only concern. Second, our kids need their parents back. Oklahoma has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. These are mothers and fathers that have been locked away with mandatory severe sentences for petty offenses. I will champion new policies concerning non-violent drug offenses that will work retroactively to ensure that justice reaches all that it has or would be kept from. Parents aren’t the only ones subject to unjust draconian sentencing. We must end the practice of delivering life sentences, or worse yet, capital punishment to minors. I will also support policies that encourage decent wages for a day’s work that will allow time to be spent raising and teaching our kids rather than working overtime or a second or third job.

What have you done to support children prior to this election?

It was a great privilege to take part in the successful campaign to get the school bond for Ardmore City Schools passed on April third of this year. This bond will now provide the funds for a new gymnasium, parking, and a secure North entrance for Jefferson Elementary and the repairs to the foundation of Charles Evans Elementary. It will also provide a new, state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center which will help Ardmore City Schools become an Arts magnet school for the region. Too often we pragmatically value more tangible skills whose career paths are more frequently trod. Investing in the arts can teach the next generation of rural Oklahoma kids that the value of beauty, exceeds that of expedience and thrift. It will encourage the expression of both talent and emotion in kids whose unique attributes would be left to atrophy in our current one size fits all approach.

In my role as president of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce Oklahoma City Chapter, I have overseen the effort to provide up to 4 $500 scholarships each year to outstanding native students accepted to college.

What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected? 

As mentioned above, increasing our investment in our kids education is paramount. We must fix our structural budget deficit without placing the burden solely on the backs of the working poor. I support restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, eliminating the Capital Gains Exemption, accepting Medicaid expansion, restoring our income tax rate to the levels we had as we began this failed experiment 8 years ago. I support raising the Gross Production Tax to 7% on all wells. We cannot keep walking into each session with a billion dollar hole to fill with all other issues pushed to the side. We have a revenue problem. We must not only fill a budget hole, but adequately fund the core services that help to ensure a safe secure environment for our kids to thrive. We must ensure our kids have clean water, healthy meals, access to broadband internet, and schools that are open 5 days a week. All of these goals require the courage to invest, and I pledge to lead the way.

Finally, I will make it my mission to see that the great state of Oklahoma takes no part in separating children from their parents, and worse yet, caging them like animals.