What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?
Elected officials should expand their concept of infrastructure beyond roads and bridges. Education, health care, and other programs that benefit children and families are a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure and should be fully funded. Federal policy should protect and strengthen families, not divide and weaken them.
We must work to fully fund education, especially programs like Title 1 which aim to boost resources for disadvantaged children. After a student completes high school, the cost of college or the interest rate of student loans should not be a barrier to them continuing their education. For other students college may not be the right route, so we must increase federal support for CareerTech and similar programs to make job training accessible in order to improve and modernize our workforce.
Sadly, especially in Oklahoma, we must talk about incarceration rates and their impact on families and children. I will champion commonsense criminal justice reforms to rehabilitate citizens who have gone down the wrong path versus our current system of perpetual institutionalization. Part of that reform must include a deep examination of the flaws in our mental health care system and our unfortunate inclination to replace mental health care with institutionalization. We can and must do better on these issues. Alternative sentencing initiatives, like drug courts, should be the first step for nonviolent offenders with no criminal history.
What have you done to support children prior to this election?
Through both professional and personal efforts, I have worked with organizations like the OICA and YWCA to advocate for children in our State Capitol and community. For years I have been a volunteer political advisor to young women attending the American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State. I continue to serve on the Gold Award Committee for Girl Scouts of Oklahoma, which reviews and grants the organization’s highest honor to deserving young women.
As the former executive director of two nonprofits – Women Lead and Sally’s List – I advocated alongside many other organizations for policies like equal pay for women and paid family leave for workers facing health emergencies.
I’m lucky to have many young people who have chosen to volunteer on my campaign. I’m proud our campaign has the mentality that young people being involved should not just be an opportunity for the campaign but should also be a leadership development opportunity for young people who want to be more active about the direction our nation and communities are headed.
What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected?
As your next U.S. Representative, I will always advocate for policies that protect children and families. I will work to fully fund education and improve access to health care.
Oklahoma is one of only 14 states in the nation who has not expanded Medicaid, a decision costing Oklahoma families millions of dollars in health care funding. I will be a strong advocate in working with and, if need be, in pressuring the governor to expand Medicaid to provide health care for Oklahoma families.
Congress completely missed the mark last year, failing to craft a tax policy that benefitted working families. Instead, most of the benefits of the package that passed went to millionaires and corporations. Additionally, they should have tied corporate tax breaks to incentives like higher employee wages, comprehensive health care benefits, and environmental responsibility.
The same Congress continues to threaten critical services like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). I will stand up and fight for vital programs like these that provide a safety net for children at risk. I can’t imagine casting a vote to deprive sick children of health care or hungry children of food, and these backwards policies from our state and nation’s leaders are why I chose to run for office. We need to move in a different direction for the health of our families and communities, and our current representation isn’t cutting it.