A generation of Stillwater youth have experienced the wonder and joy of music making during Trish Ranson’s 15 years as the Westwood Elementary music teacher and as a conductor with OSU Youth Choir (formerly Stillwater Honor Choir). Creating and cultivating community in all she does, Trish is a natural leader with a knack for connecting to people where they are, listening genuinely and intently and responding with practical action.
The daughter of a machinist and a church secretary in Ponca City, she learned the lessons of hard work and grit as well as the value of education. After graduating from Ponca City High School in 1988, she went on to earn her undergraduate degree in music education from Wichita State University and her master’s in music performance and pedagogy from OSU, along with multiple professional certifications. She has served as president for several professional and community organizations including Oklahoma Orff Chapter, and Stillwater High School Band Boosters. Trish’s passion for community has also manifested in her contribution to the unique culture of Westwood, for which she was recognized as the school’s Teacher of the Year in 2011. She is an active member of the First United Methodist Church and is a champion for community events.
Her husband of 20 years is Andrew Ranson, a technology strategy consultant and opera singer who serves as president of the board of Our Daily Bread Food & Resource Center and is past president of Stillwater CARES. Trish and Andrew’s two children, Will and Jenna, are students at Stillwater High School and are both active in the Stillwater Bands program. Will has served as section leader in the band and has recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts. Jenna has served as a section leader in the band, has participated in Youth in Government, and is also active in theater and choir.
Investing in education is the single best way to ensure the brightest future for our children and our state. It is time we make public education a priority again. As soon as the next legislative session begins, we must act to restore full funding to Oklahoma public schools at every level – early childhood, pre-K-through-12, career and technology schools, and public colleges and universities. We must help our schools recover from painful choices forced upon them by years of neglect – delayed building maintenance, postponed equipment purchases, continued use of disintegrating textbooks, increased class sizes, cuts to staff, and shortened school weeks. We must address a salary situation so dire that teachers are fleeing for higher pay in other states, enrollment in college education programs is plummeting, and emergency teacher certifications are at an all-time high. It is time to face these hard facts and get back to doing what’s right for Oklahoma. Over the past eight years, our governor and legislative leadership have repeatedly failed us. We can fix the problems they caused only when we vote them out, reverse their bad decisions, and once again put the people of Oklahoma first. Oklahoma needs new leaders with the compassion to understand and the resolve to make Oklahoma better. I am working alongside pro-education candidates for the legislature and office of governor on a coordinated effort to propose bipartisan legislation that will restore full funding to our schools through fair and equitable revenue measures. As part of that work, I am researching school funding and financing, and gaining insight into the failures that led to our current state of crisis. I am also seeking input from teachers and education experts, incumbents who support public education, and from the people of House District 34.
Oklahoma’s elected officials must embrace every opportunity to bring comprehensive, affordable healthcare to ALL Oklahomans. We can begin by accepting Medicaid expansion. In one swift act of compassion, we can ensure that many of our most vulnerable neighbors get the care they need. Healthcare is expensive. Those of us who are insured can often take medical care for granted. We see the doctor or dentist for regular preventive care, visit again whenever we get sick, and go to the ER or hospital when emergencies happen. But for more than 546,000 Oklahomans, there is no insurance – and no hope of paying. Oklahoma is ranked No. 2 in the nation for the percentage of uninsured according to a recent Tulsa World article.[i] More than 14 percent of our population has no health insurance – no vision, no dental, no hospital, no preventive care. No nothing. Many of our uninsured fall into what is called the “eligibility gap.” They work, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Yet their employers provide no insurance, and they don’t earn enough to afford private insurance. Because healthcare costs are so far beyond their means, most of the uninsured avoid doctors – until disaster strikes. Then they visit emergency rooms or are admitted to the hospital, where costs are even further out of reach. They can’t pay, there’s no insurance backup, and more bad outcomes rain down. Hospitals that treat the uninsured have to bear the uncompensated costs they incur. To meet financial obligations, many are forced to reduce levels and types of care offered to the general public. In response, insured people who can afford to travel elsewhere go to other hospitals for care. Small rural hospitals are the hardest hit. A growing number have closed in recent years. This September, a hospital in Paul’s Valley, OK, started a GoFundMe campaign just to keep its doors open. In its year-end 2017 report, America’s Health Rankings ranked Oklahoma 43rd in the nation in overall health.[ii] Our high number of uninsured was a primary factor. A national health rank of 43, more than 546,000 uninsured, and countless underinsured citizens constitute an Oklahoma healthcare crisis. We know how the crisis happened. Beginning in 2011, Gov. Fallin and Oklahoma’s legislative leadership made every effort to thwart the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or Obamacare). They refused to set up an Oklahoma-run insurance exchange and rejected $54 million in federal grant money to build the exchange. Then-Attorney General Scott Pruitt sued the Obama administration, challenging the legality of both state-run and federal exchanges, and then sued to block the award of subsidies to federal exchange participants. Late in 2012, the governor refused Medicaid expansion and rejected federal funding of 90 percent of expanded Medicaid costs. With these flawed decisions, our so-called public servants guaranteed that hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans would remain uninsured and that countless others would pay higher rates. The decisions are an ongoing assault on the health and prosperity of our state. I believe that our governor and legislators have the duty and responsibility to ensure that ALL Oklahomans can afford comprehensive healthcare, including mental health and substance abuse services. In addition to expanding Medicaid immediately, we must explore ways to encourage more insurance carriers to join the Oklahoma exchange so that competition increases and premiums fall. As legislators, we should be honored to embrace the trust placed in us by the people of our state. As your representative, I promise to work to secure affordable health insurance and comprehensive healthcare for House District 34 and Oklahoma.
As of 2016 Oklahoma was ranked number 10 in the nation for food insecurity. That is not a top 10 list I want Oklahoma to be on. As your representative I plan to work to improve this for the more than 656,000 Oklahomans that deal with food insecurity every day.