I am proud to say I was born and raised in SE Oklahoma and I am a graduate from Panama High School. After graduating I attended radio telegraph school in Pueblo, Co. after completion I was employed by the Rock Island RR as a relief agent/operator working Western Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Due to the Vietnam War my draft number came up and I joined the US Navy as the Navy was a tradition in my family. After basic in San Diego, CA, I completed Naval Communication School in Pensacola, FL. then served in Morocco, NW Africa, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Imperial Beach, CA. After being discharged I worked in Ft. Smith, AR, until 1971 when I was hired by the Oklahoma Dept of Public Safety as a Radio Dispatcher for the OHP McAlester Headquarters. In 1972 I met and later married Barbara K. Patterson of McAlester and in 1973 we relocated In Poteau, OK. I attended Carl Albert Jr. College at night where I received Associates Arts Degree in Elementary Education on the GI Bill, I was employed by Whirlpool Corp and later completed Iron Workers Apprenticeship Tulsa School Local Union #584 where I worked as an journeyman Iron worker, working in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas. In 1978 I worked in Saudi Arabia for Beck/Arabia constructing the first 14 story steel structured building in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. After 12 years in construction Barbara and I moved back to the McAlester area in 1980 and started our ranching operation west of McAlester while being employed at McAAP until my retirement in 2010 where we now reside.
1. Who is someone who has inspired you, either personally, professionally or historically? And what about them makes them inspiring?
I was inspired by my maternal Great Aunt, Foye Grubbs. Foye was a Native American. She was very smart and emphasized education. She raised three children on her own, and made sure they all got a college education or technical school education. Fove always had a positive attitude and was extremely hard working. She taught by example.
2. If you could change one thing in Oklahoma, what would that one thing be? And how would you do it?
If I could change one thing in Oklahoma, I would work to increase the state’s minimum wage. I would sponsor legislation to increase the minimum wage and advocate the benefits of our citizens earning a living wage.
3. What issue do you wish voters knew more about?
The issue I wish voters knew more about would be civics and how government works.
4. If elected, what legacy do you hope to leave for Oklahoma?
The legacy I would hope to leave is that I worked hard to make the lives of people in District 7, and the whole state better through employment opportunities, education, and healthcare.
- What steps will you take to ensure equal access to voting rights for all, including the elderly, disabled, and impoverished?
I will work on legislation to make General Election days a state holiday. I would also like to remove the notary requirement on absentee ballots. I would also like to implement the development of a Voter’s Guide that is distributed to al voters to help voters be educated on candidates and issues.
- What experience have you had with discrimination or prejudice, and how do you plan to use your platform to end the unjust treatment of people based on their race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender identity/orientation, religion, class, etc.?
I have witnessed discrimination throughout my life. I will work on legislation that would fully fund the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission and support the enforcement of laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, immigration status, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
- What are your thoughts on gerrymandering, and do you think politicians should be allowed to draw their own district lines?
I am against gerrymandering by any political party. I do not think politicians should be allowed to draw their own district lines. I would support the creation of an independent and bi-partisan committee who would determine the boundaries for districts at both the state and federal level.
Gun violence and the Second Amendment:
- What can elected officials do to end the epidemic of gun violence in Oklahoma, and how can you use your platform to protect children and families while still recognizing Second Amendment rights?
I fully support the 2nd amendment. I do believe in concealed carry which mandates training in gun safety and laws. However, I oppose constitutional carry and I feel it should be repealed. As a legislator I would advocate for increasing funding for mental health prevention services and education as a way to help keep families safe from gun violence.
- How do you think Oklahoma became the incarceration capitol of the world? What do you think is needed to reduce our overburdened jai/prison population and make our criminal justice system more humane?
Oklahoma became the incarceration capitol of the world because of harsh sentencing requirements for minor drug crimes, and our failure to address poverty and mental health. I will support legislation that has sentencing alternatives to prison, such as drug courts and mental health courts. I will also work on legislation that will make more drug crimes a misdemeanor. I will also work on legislation that would prohibit incarceration of people for failure to pay fines and court costs.