Elections in 2020 will most likely be won at the doorstep – an effort both difficult and fulfilling in these socially distant days. In my race it has been a blessing to bond with some terrific people along the way. The strength, goodness of heart, wisdom and clear-sighted Oklahoma vision for the future is more evident in individuals than on any news report. I hope I am worthy of these individuals’ votes as I do my best to uphold the values that enable our society to flourish and to fight the forces promoting centralized tyranny.
In Oklahoma Senate District 35, the chief concern upon voters’ minds when they talk with me at the doorstep is the pandemic, and how government services will be provided in the wake of the health, economic, educational, and safety crises it has caused.
Funding will be difficult to find, especially when that money comes from taxpayers struggling to pay their own bills. My goal will be to find the funding we need for core services by encouraging greater economic activity and getting people back to meaningful jobs with expanding opportunities.
My career in the law has prepared me to address these and other issues in the state legislature at this critical time in our history. I have experience working as a business litigator in a highly respected law firm resolving complex issues for small and large companies. Later, I worked as a federal law clerk here in the Northern District of Oklahoma for five different judges, addressing a wide variety of business issues involving contractual disputes, employment discrimination, bankruptcy, taxation, and much more. I have developed skills in statutory interpretation which, I believe, will assist me in creating and evaluating legislation so that it will have a positive impact on the lives of my constituents.
As a fiscal conservative, I don’t believe that increased funding is the answer to every problem, and elected officials need constantly to root out waste and political largesse. We need to also be looking constantly to cut red tape and remove regulatory burdens. Further, I’m convinced that welfare programs can never fully alleviate socio-economic inequality and poverty; instead, hard work and individual prosperity resolve financial stress, and economic growth reduces the need for more welfare programs. Our focus needs to be getting back, as quickly as possible, to the economic gains and activity we enjoyed as a State prior to the pandemic, but to do it safely.
To do it safely, public health initiatives are critical, and we must work to lower costs, and keep them down, without diminishing the quality of care for patients. Existing conditions must be covered, and healthy lifestyles encouraged without expanding troublesome bureaucracies. Political promises, as in Obamacare, frequently fail, but there is much room for improvement in the system in Oklahoma so that people know they can depend on it in times of trauma.
There is also much room for improvement in our education system. We need to focus on opening and operating schools as safely as possible during the pandemic while we also look toward reforming the funding formula, promoting teacher development and recruitment, focusing on workforce development, reducing mandates, and supporting learning opportunities that benefit families.
I am a product of public education, having grown up in a small rural school where two of my sisters have taught, and I made my way through college using scholarships, grants, loans and a part-time jobs to pursue the American Dream. As a mom to two boys who have attended both public and private schools, I have been very involved in parent-faculty associations to raise funds so that students will have better educational outcomes and greater opportunities. I believe we must maximize every dollar invested in education and ensure that the next generation of Oklahomans are ready to pursue high-paying jobs in our State.
In the wake of this pandemic, public safety and security also weighs heavily on the minds of voters in my district and beyond. I believe the rule of law is essential to our freedom, and equal application of it is critical to ordered liberty. To keep our neighborhoods safe, I will work to revise criminal sentencing laws, lower incarceration rates, and support investment in comprehensive rehabilitation programs, but I will also oppose initiatives that lead to higher crime rates and undermine the efforts of law enforcement to provide the protection we want and need.
Again, my career in the law has positioned me well to address these issues. As an Assistant United States Attorney, I have worked with law enforcement on criminal matters and, as a federal law clerk, I wrote jury instructions, sentencing memoranda and other documents after extensive research on criminal issues. Further, I have represented abused and neglected children in foster care as a volunteer for Tulsa Lawyers for Children and, years ago, I served as legal counsel to the organization that began the very successful Women in Recovery Program in Tulsa.
I sent a mailer during the runoff with a quote from Anne Frank, who lived during even greater turmoil. I am encouraged by her words: “I keep my ideals because, in spite of everything, I still believe that people are good at heart. And how wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Despite the pandemic and societal unrest, I believe Oklahomans are good at heart. Oklahomans are also resilient, innovative, empathetic, and strong. We need not wait another moment to start improving our world.
My message throughout the past year-and-a-half of my campaign has been this: “I believe that government should be limited, markets should be free, and people should be empowered by a good education, a good economy, and the rule of law.” My sincere hope is that I get the chance to implement this creed, if you will, as a state legislator for the citizens of Senate District 35.