Carly Hotvedt, a proud Democrat and Cherokee Oklahoman, is running for State Senate District 35. She is a committed public servant raised by the same, a teacher and a Navy veteran. She is an attorney and the Director of Tribal Enterprise for the University of Arkansas Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI). Carly is married to Chad Hotvedt, a teacher and Air Force veteran. Last year, Carly and Chad adopted their son Seth, also a Cherokee citizen, after fostering him from the age of 17.
Carly was born in the Claremore Indian Hospital and spent her childhood in Hawaii and Washington State as a Navy brat where she experienced progressive, well-funded, public education. Her family moved back to Oklahoma in time for Carly to attend Adair High School. After graduation, she attended Oklahoma State University and became the tenth person in her family to graduate from OSU. Go Pokes! She majored in Agribusiness Pre-Law and went on to the University Of Oklahoma School Of Law in the fall of 2008. While in law school, she interned for two of the largest cities in Oklahoma and clerked for the late Oklahoma State Supreme Court Justice Marion Opala. She also completed her second OSU bachelor’s degree in Political Science while attending OU Law.
After graduating, Carly started in private practice, helping people obtain Social Security Disability benefits. She transitioned to litigation work, defending cities and counties. Carly was hired by Muscogee (Creek) Nation as an Assistant Attorney General based on her government law experience. After starting at MCN, she began a graduate studies program at OU-Tulsa, graduating in 2018 with her Master’s in Public Administration. Carly was internally headhunted to take over and restructure the MCN Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources with the goal of reversing annual losses of almost half a million dollars and restoring profitability. She cut the loss margin of the Division by over 70% in her first year, increase asset quality, and streamlined labor and vertical integration. The program is projected to be profitable for the fiscal year 2020.
In 2018, Carly ran for Oklahoma House District 67, the third reddest district in the State. While she did not win that race, Carly proved that a smart, disciplined, hardworking Democrat can make gains even in the reddest of districts. In a much more evenly split district like Senate District 35, Carly firmly believes that drive and effort can and will make the difference.
Oklahoma’s failing education system is holding back its economic success. CNBC recently ranked Oklahoma at 43rd in its rankings of best states to do business in. Why did we rank so low? Oklahoma is dead last in education and has been for years now. The State Legislature has failed to prioritize education for so long that years of bad policy decisions are damaging our workforce, technology, and innovation. Businesses do not want to move or expand here and thousands of Oklahoma’s brightest young minds have left for better opportunities elsewhere. That is, and should be, unacceptable to Oklahomans across the state. Since the 2018 teacher walkout, we have seen, at best, incremental progress far short of the changes necessary to fix the system. The teacher pay increase may have slowed the rate at which qualified teachers were fleeing the state, but it did nothing to address the critical lack of classroom funding across the state. Raises in teacher and staff pay are appropriate and appreciated but no matter how much teachers are paid, if they do not have the resources, tools, and facilities to do their jobs correctly, nothing will change. Our classrooms are overfilled with students that in far too many cases lack access to the technology, textbooks, and learning facilities that contribute to a world-class education. Districts are being forced to make difficult choices to manage shrinking budgets including eliminating programs, cutting jobs, shortening school weeks, and even closing schools. District 35 is about to lose two Tulsa Public elementary schools due to cuts. We can and we must do better. The solution to this problem is making real, long term investments in education from top to bottom. From rural elementary schools to the halls of the state’s top universities, we must restore classroom funding and reverse the cuts of the last decade. That means significantly increasing the funding to the classroom spending rubric, restoring funding to higher education, finding smarter, more flexible solutions for district financing, and above all, placing the public school classroom at the heart of our education policy. To do so, the legislature will have to shift its priorities and put children ahead of corporate profits and oil and gas lobbyists. If elected, Carly will have her priorities straight from Day 1 and work tirelessly to ensure that our children get a top-quality education."
Oklahoma faces a massive problem with access to affordable healthcare. Thousands of Oklahomans are under or flat out uninsured and lack access to major medical care outside of an emergency room. This means they also lack access to preventative care that would have kept them out of the emergency room in the first place. As both a state government and as individuals, we spend an exorbitant amount of both time and money dealing with the consequences of under and uninsured Oklahomans. This has real-world consequences. When we do not support policy that guarantees healthcare for everyone, otherwise productive, employable people can deteriorate to the point where they cannot physically work. When that happens, our economy loses the productivity of the afflicted, our local healthcare facilities are burdened with worse-off individuals requiring elevated levels of care, and because that care is more complex and expensive, those who have insurance end up paying far higher costs to cover those expenses than they would have had we covered the uninsured in the first place. While there are numerous policies, programs, and best practices that we can and should employ to help fix this problem, the biggest solution is simple and well known. We must pass State Question 802, expand Medicaid, and diligently implement the expansion through legislation. The organizations supporting the Medicaid Expansion State Question (SQ 802) expect that if Oklahoma reclaimed its federal tax dollars by expanding Medicaid, as many or more than 200,000 Oklahomans would gain access to affordable healthcare. That is 200,000 men, women, and children who would be able to live, work, learn, and care for their families without the fear of untreated illness or injury or financial ruin from medical debt. We know this is true because the Oklahoma Policy Institute reports that every state that took the Medicaid expansion experienced better health outcomes, especially in the realm of preventative care that led to things like increased cancer screenings which led to earlier diagnoses and fewer deaths. Governor Stitt’s proposed “block grant” program is insufficient to combat the needs of the moment. It will not only fail to cover all those who need coverage, but it will also reduce services to those already covered by capping the amount of funding for the program. SQ 802, which requires a full expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is the best solution on the table to meet the needs of under and uninsured Oklahomans. It is important to note that passage of SQ 802 is only the beginning. We will still need dedicated legislators who will defend the will of the people and implement the expansion without distraction or delay. Carly is absolutely committed to that cause and she will fight with all her strength for the healthcare that Oklahoma so badly needs. UPDATE March 13, 2020 With the spread of the Coronavirus and the associated disease, COVID-19, the need for smart health care policy is only going to intensify. As Oklahoma deals with the cases already present in the state and prepares for the possibility of widespread transmission, it is all the more important to closely monitor our healthcare system. The issues facing the under and uninsured will get worse and we must respond to that now. We also need to examine our system for weak spots that can be improved so that we are better prepared for the next crisis to come our way.
Oklahoma’s infrastructure is in serious disrepair and it affects all of us. Almost everyone in District 35 has had some sort of personal experience with this problem, whether it is losing a tire to a huge pothole or nervously watching the river and checking rainfall amounts. Despite incremental efforts to make repairs, our roads and bridges are still dilapidated and crumbling. We pay for that, both individually and collectively, in wear and tear on vehicles resulting in repair bills, lost productivity, and higher insurance costs for both individuals and businesses. Furthermore, the longer we go without a serious effort to address the problem, the more expensive those costs are going to become. Solving this problem begins with fully funding the Eight-Year plan to review, triage, and repair our roads and bridges. In addition, we must begin preparing now for what comes after the Eight-Year plan. While investments in public infrastructure occurred with regularity from the 1930s to the 1960s, new projects and even maintenance for existing projects remain unfunded and thus unexecuted due to budget cuts. Just as with preventative healthcare for people, early, preventative maintenance will fix problems with our infrastructure before they grow into threats to public safety and productivity. Oklahoma does a poor job of managing the risks and opportunities presented by our various bodies of water. We face challenges from both an emergency management standpoint and also in water quality and treatment. 2019's record flooding across the state made those issues crystal clear. District 35 residents understand the consequences of not addressing these issues before they become emergencies. Thousands of homes and businesses, including The Gathering Place were threatened and damaged with rising waters in 2019. Without intervention in our upstream infrastructure, there is no guarantee against similar or worse threats in years to come. A lack of adequate flood prevention measures means higher insurance premiums contributing to an artificially high cost of living and working. To address these problems, the State should partner its agencies and administrators with federal agencies including the Army Corps of Engineers, municipal governments and tribal governments to review Oklahoma’s dams, levees, and flood control systems. Levees need to be improved, flood safety protocols reviewed and updated, flood resiliency planning should occur at the state, county, and municipal levels, and wetland preservation and expansion should be implemented for natural flood control.