Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Do You Vote?

“Why do you vote?” Kara Jo Perry-McKee asked us that question on the TogetherOklahoma Facebook page. 

Why do you vote? For me, it's easy. And it's not so I can complain after the election.

I vote because my parents would know if I didn’t. They’d come down from Heaven and yell at me. They both loved to vote, to participate. Mom was a New-Deal Democrat and Dad was an Eisenhower Republican. They joked that their votes cast each other’s out, but it didn’t matter. The act of voting was a solemn obligation, a privilege. An act of citizenship. A responsibility. After Dad retired, they spent every Election Day volunteering as poll-watchers. Mom for the Dems, Dad for the Republicans. In the same room all day, but in different corners. Thoroughly enjoying themselves.

How could I not vote with that example? My first vote was in the Presidential primary of 1968. We lived in Bloomington, IN, and as IU students, our polling place was the county courthouse. We stood in line for at least an hour with other university students…and I proudly voted for Bobby Kennedy.

I’ve always voted. I took my kids with me when I voted. I’ve registered and followed the voting rules of three states. I’ve written about my frustration with my profession…educators historically have a very poor voting record…and that frustrates me. I’ve not been polite about my frustration, I fear.

I will vote in the June 28 primary with pride…nearly fifty years of exercising my responsibility.

Primary rules and regulations can be frustrating. Indiana has a strange primary system…open, but…you are only allowed to vote for candidates running in the party you cast most of your votes in the last election…so Indiana keeps track of your voting patterns and limits you to one party. Iowa has open primaries – you declare a party when you register, but on election day, you can change your party and vote in whichever primary you choose. Here in Oklahoma, we have a closed primary, with Independents being allowed to vote in the Democratic primary.

We can work within the rules set for us. I remember educators choosing to change their party affiliation two years ago so they could vote against the then Superintendent of Schools. As it turned out, the election wasn’t close, and the dentist’s own party rejected her overwhelmingly. Many of those educators changed their party affiliation after that primary.

This year, I’m frustrated that the Cleveland County races are between Republican candidates, and will be decided by Republican voters. I have strong opinions about the candidates for CC Sheriff, but I’m not allowed to participate…I will be represented by an official I was not allowed to vote for…or against.

As a Democrat (that doesn’t surprise anyone, does it??), I will only be allowed to vote in one race, for US Representative. Lucky for me a friend is running, and I will proudly vote for Christina Owen! It’s exciting to vote for a friend.

I can vote on Tuesday at my polling place, or I can vote early Friday or Saturday (I frittered today away, or I could have voted all day). I also could have voted by mail, but was initially intimidated by the requirement of getting my ballot notarized. I learned that any tag agency will notarize my mail-in ballot for free, so I may try that again.

But I will vote. Once, not ‘early and often’ like we joked in Chicago. One vote, proudly cast. For only one candidate.

There are many tools for us voters. The OK Election Board’s Online Tool allows you to type in your name and birthday (none of your business), and learn your precinct, polling place, and all elected officials. There is a link to see a sample ballot, so you can go to the polls prepared.

There are tools to help you learn more about candidates:

This is the year of the education coalition…educators and family who stepped up to run for the legislature, to risk everything to do the right thing for our students, and for #oklaed. This is the year that we all must vote for candidates who will work for our schools. We have heard that many incumbents feel no urgency from these challengers…some incumbents do not believe we will vote. We must.

Vote. If you’re my friend, vote.

Vote for candidates who are committed to our children and our schools and our communities.

Vote and confound the career politicians who do not believe we are ready for change.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Finalized List of Educators Running for Legislature

I've continued to work on my list of educators and family members running for the OK Legislature. I've updated my original posts several times as I've gotten more information, but here is the list of House candidates and Senate candidates in one place.

I am not endorsing any of these candidates solely on the fact they are educators or family members. Frankly, that's YOUR job as reader and voter. I'm trying to give you the tools to do just that for yourself.

I've included district, party affiliation, connection to education, and official websites for all candidates I've been able to identify.

I made the decision early on that I'd only include official websites, and not Facebook campaign pages. Some of us may not choose to play on Facebook, and an official website is more revealing about a candidate's stance on all the issues. On most websites, there are links to contact the candidates, and to donate or volunteer. A few candidates do not have websites, and you will see the blanks.

So. Now, do your work.

Oklahomas for Public Education and the Facebook group Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education have compiled a list of candidates we (yes, I am on the board that made those selections) feel, based on their stances, professional recommendations, and past histories, will be positive legislators. This list endorses some educators and some non-educators. Its purpose is different from my list. Both together can help your personal research.

Look at the websites, check on Facebook and Twitter for candidates. Follow and like them. Watch. Ask questions. Decide on YOUR issues and quiz your candidates about those issues. Listen and decide.

Find candidates you can support and do so. Volunteer. Knock on doors, make phone calls. Give them some cash if you can.

Be present. Be informed. Be a citizen. Be a voter.

Primary races for both parties will be June 28. Voter registration for this race is now closed.

General election is November 8, and the deadline to register to vote is October 14. The Oklahoma Election Board website can be helpful for you.

I am asking each of you to inform yourself, and then vote. Vote in June and vote in November. I hope you will make education your top voting issue.

Educators and Family Running for Oklahoma Senate

SD Name Website Party  Educator
1 Michael Bergstrom R Yes
3 Rhonda Cox D Yes
5 Stacy Ebert D Yes
9 Jack Reavis D Yes
9 Dewayne Pemberton R Yes
13 Eric Hall D Yes
13 Greg McCortney R Spouse
15 Shawn Sheehan I Yes
19 Rhonda Harlow D Yes
19 Roland Pederson R Yes
23 Kevin Crow R HigherEd
23 Lonnie Paxton Spouse
25 Lisa Kramer R ScBd
29 Robert Jobe D Yes
29 Jean Oliver R Yes
31 Chris Kidd R Former
31 Toni Hasenbeck R Yes
37 Lloyd Snow D Yes
37 Brian Jackson R Spouse
39 John Waldron D Yes
41 Kevin McDonald D Yes
43 Leah Pollan D Parents
43 Paul Scott R Spouse
45 Mike Mason Yes
47 Judy Hopper D Yes
47 Don Sherry D Niece 

Educators and Family Running for Oklahoma House of Representatives

HD Name Website Party Educator
2 Tom Sites R Adjunct
3 Troy Dyer D Yes
4 Matt Meredith D SchBd
5 Joe Wilhelm III R Yes
8 Rick Kibbe R Yes
9 Richelle Helbig R Yes
12 Darla Milligan D Yes
13 Wayne Herriman D Daughter
14 Lee Ann Langston D Yes
20 (Gregory) Matt Failing Former
25 David Weir D Yes
27 Trey Baker R Spouse
28 Yasminda Choate D Higher Ed
29 Macy Gleason D Parents
30 Mike Gambill R Yes
33 Caryl Talley Yes
33 Connie Parker R Yes
42 Liz George D Higher Ed
42 Jim Beckham R Yes
43 Mike Bounds D Spouse
46 Jacob Rosecrants Yes
46 Marilyn Goll Yes
49 Michelle Bray D Yes
50 Melissa Tilley D Yes
52 John Thomas R SchBd
58 Rochelle Covington R Daughter
60 Chad Slane R Yes
60 Patrick Case R Yes
60 Rhonda Baker R Yes
62 Ruby Peters D Yes
63 Randy Batt D Yes
64 Jacobi Crowley D Yes
65 Rick Gilleland D Spouse
66 Dianna Phillips D Higher Ed
67 John Croisant R Yes
67 Tom McCloud R Spouse
72 Monroe Nichols D Yes
75 Karen Gaddis D Yes
76 Glenda Puett D Yes
80 Tom Bates D Yes
81 Lyle Walters Parents
82 David Dickerson I Yes
83 Jason Stone D Higher Ed
84 Tammy West R SchBd
84 Donnie Ryan R Spouse
87 Kelly Meredith D Higher Ed
93 Mickey Dollens D Yes
95 James Cook D Higher Ed
100 Jeremy Miller D Yes
100 Donald Wentroth D Yes
101 Cheryl M-Hessman D Yes
101 Johnny Jump R Yes