Wednesday, 31 October 2018 17:14

Candidates Share Plans for Oklahoma Children Featured

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Press release


All three gubernatorial candidates, as well as dozens of other candidates for federal and state offices, have responded to the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s (OICA) candidate survey. OICA CEO Joe Dorman encouraged voters and members of the press to look up their local candidates’ answers at


“OICA does not endorse candidates, but we are committed to ensuring that candidates share their plans for Oklahoma’s children,” said Dorman. “We encourage every voter to consider these answers, and every local paper to print them in-full. The public needs to know that serving children is a priority for our state and federal officeholders."


Gubernatorial Candidate Surveys

Drew Edmondson (D)

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


To better the lives of Oklahoma’s children we need to start by investing in education. Budgets for education have been cut over recent years and our children are suffering for it. Our per-pupil spending is below the regional average, 20% of our schools are at 4-day weeks, and teachers are leaving the profession in droves. We need to put more money in the classrooms and invest in our children.


Oklahoma needs to opt-in to the Medicaid expansion and put our federal tax dollars to work here in Oklahoma. This will bring healthcare coverage to roughly 150,000 Oklahomans. Rural hospitals are going bankrupt, and expanding Medicaid will bring money in to stabilize those hospitals. Medicaid expansion will give healthcare coverage to thousands of children in Oklahoma and support economic security.


We need a criminal justice system that is fair and equitable, but also focused on rehabilitation, not just punishment. We need a criminal justice system that does not create overcrowded prisons that make Oklahoma the prison capitol of the world. Keeping parents out of prison that don’t need to be imprisoned will provide stability and long-term support for children across Oklahoma.


Most importantly, we need to raise revenue to get Oklahoma back on the right path. Our state has a revenue problem. We need to restore the gross production tax on all oil and gas wells to 7%. We need to end the capital gains tax exemption that has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars and primarily benefits the wealthy.


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


As Attorney General I created the Oklahoma Education Technology Trust, which provides grants to put the latest technology in classrooms around the state as well as providing professional development for teachers. OETT has provided training to over 10,000 educators and administrators and has helped over 109,000 students through its grants.


I also established the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, which currently holds over a billion dollars. TSET funds programs that address Oklahoma’s leading causes of preventable death, tobacco use and obesity. The tobacco litigation, new controls on the industry, increased price and cessation programs have all lowered the incidence of youth smoking in Oklahoma.


As Attorney General I brought litigation against companies that were polluting our rivers and hurting our health. Children are particularly susceptible to environmental pollutants; protecting children means protecting our environment.

I am currently an advisory board member of Rainbow Fleet, a non-profit organization that is devoted to early childhood education.


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


I am committed to implementing the changes I have called for. My history reflects my commitment to bettering the lives of the children of Oklahoma, and I have no plans to change my attitude as Governor. The problems in our state are at crisis level. It is time for a bipartisan effort to address the crisis that is the Oklahoma budget. It is time that Oklahoma be governed with compassion, kindness, and a long-term vision for growth and prosperity. Our government should be dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable among us, and as Governor I will work across party lines to ensure that it does.


My efforts in the domestic violence arena, creating a special unit in the AG’s office and sponsoring seminars around the state; protected children both as victims and as witnesses whose emotional scars often led to acts of violence as a continuation of the cycle.


Chris Powell (L)


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


A top priority of my campaign has been to promote the idea of pushing authority and responsibility for our classrooms back down to the local level within reach of parents and teachers so that decisions affecting any individual child’s education will more often be made by people who actually know that child. I am also focused on prioritization of spending in our state budget to root out waste and corporate welfare in order to better fund our core services, many if not most of which directly impact children. Another area that is a more personal concern is a desire to make DHS child protective services more effective at determining which cases most need intervention and which do not.


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


I served as a board member of Youth Cornerstone, an organization that worked with Oklahoma City Public Schools to reduce truancy, and my wife and I fostered a child whom we later adopted.


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


Enacting policies that encourage economic growth, prioritizing parents and teachers over politicians when it comes to common ed, eliminating incentives and other corporate welfare in order to better fund core services, and working to increase flexibility of options for receiving healthcare services are all ways I will support families. As someone whose life is far more representative of the average Oklahoman, rather than being a member of the political class, I believe my perspective and outlook will be a breath of fresh air in the halls of the Capitol where I will be able to champion the cause of regular working people in a way that no previous Governor has.


Kevin Stitt (R)


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

To better the lives of Oklahoma’s children, we need to promote healthy family units and build a Top Ten education system that creates more doors of opportunity for all of Oklahoma’s children.


At Gateway, our mission focused on strengthening families. It is what guides our workplace standards, our company donations, and the boards our employees serve on and the thousands of hours of service they log each year in their communities. Many scientific studies show that a child’s success starts with a safe and stable home environment. There are many ways the governor can help families succeed, from recruiting more competition in the job market to improve household wages to ensuring our state’s safety nets are fiscally sound, operating efficiently and available to those who need it the most.


I also believe education is a corner stone to helping better the lives of Oklahoma’s children. Everyone recognizes we need to do better in this category. I am ready to bring all stakeholders together and lead us in problem-solving and pursuing new methods that are showing successful outcomes in other states. We need to pay our teachers competitive salaries, draw down classroom sizes, and pursue modern technology and alternative programs to help our kids be college or career ready at graduation. In a Stitt administration, we will bring together the best and brightest minds on education in Oklahoma to help deliver Top Ten outcomes for our children.


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

As founder and CEO of Gateway, I view my company’s greatest responsibility to not only be about empowering people with the American Dream of home ownership but to also make a positive impact on local communities and those in need. Gateway recently announced its “Gateway Gives Back” program, a pledge to reinvest $2.5 million in communities across Oklahoma. We are proud to bring our success across 41 states back home to help Oklahoma non-profits that are making a different in our communities on issues of education, drug rehabilitation, foster care, and fair and equal housing.


The Gateway Gives Back program complements our company’s long-standing investment in giving back to Oklahoma communities. Last year, Gateway donated over $500,000 to local charities like the Oklahoma Housing Foundation, Reading Partners, Aim High and many others. In 2017, Gateway established an annual commitment with Oklahoma-based Folds of Honor, which provides educational support to family members of wounded and fallen military members.

Gateway also has a global commitment in helping children. In 2009, Gateway donated money to build a school in a small Nigerian village that educates 300 students a year. Gateway continues to fund the salary of teachers, provide school supplies, and give scholarships. In 2015, we also provided the financing to purchase 215 acres in Uganda to establish the Gateway Youth Ranch, which will provide orphans with traditional schooling plus sustainability skills such as crop and fish farming, raising cattle and other skills that will enhance their lives.


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

I am passionate about strengthening families because of my upbringing. My dad was a pastor in Norman, and my parents raised us in the scriptures. There was no silver spoon in our family. My brothers and I had to work hard at a young age to buy a car and pay for college. No matter what type of food was on the table or how many times our clothes had been re-gifted, my brothers and I are who we are today because of our parents’ commitment to put family first and extend unconditional love. As governor, I will be committed to being a public advocate for the family unit. As I have done at Gateway, my core value as governor will be centered on strengthen Oklahoma families. It will guide me in the legislation I sign and the Top Ten goals we set for the state to achieve.


As governor, I also want to layout county-by-county statistics on the big issues that need to be tackled and bring together church and community leaders to create solutions that are a best fit for each county. Oklahoma is Top Ten in the number of non-profits that call our state home, yet we are Bottom Ten in critical issues that impact our children the most. I don’t believe government is the answer to all our problems, but the governor can be a strong leader in setting goals for Oklahoma and coalescing the diverse and abundant resources to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children.

About OICA

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens, to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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