Sunday, October 10, 2010
MARY FALLIN - LADY OF FIRSTS FOR OKLAHOMA
Mary Fallin's next success could be the election victory this fall that would make her the State of Oklahoma's first female governor but as a public servant, she has already accomplished a series of "firsts" in her own right.
She was the first woman Lieutenant Governor for the State of Oklahoma, initially elected in 1995 and serving until January 4, 2007 when she was officially sworn in as the first woman from Oklahoma to serve in the US Congress since Alice Mary Robertson broke the gender barrier in 1921. But if victory in her campaign is just about a series of "firsts" it is lost on Mary.
"I am thrilled to be back in Oklahoma," she was quoted as saying at a civic luncheon in the February 17, 2010 edition of the Urban Tulsa Weekly. "I had to go back to Washington, D.C. to vote very quickly this week but any time I can hurry right back to Oklahoma it's a good day. Our people here in Oklahoma are a little bit different than those folks up in D.C. . ."
"The American people are mad. They're very concerned. They don't like deficit spending. They don't want more taxes. They need a job. They want to make their own decisions about health care. They don't want some federal bureaucrat in D.C. making that decision. They're fighting mad."
Since winning her June 18 primary in Oklahoma, ousting her strongest primary challenger in State Senator Randy Brogdon, and capturing the prized endorsement of Sarah Palin, Mary's campaign has been rolling on into the late summer, focusing it's efforts squarely on her Democratic challenger, Jari Askins; another woman who, ironically, serves almost as Mary's alter-ego, having been appointed to take her place as Lt Governor in 2007 by current Democratic Governor Brad Henry.
Born in Tecumseh, Oklahoma on December 9, 1954, (WIKIPEDIA), Mary's political rearing started early in her life as both her mother and father served terms as mayor of Tecumseh as conservative Democrats. Mary was first registered as Democrat, but transitioned to the Republican Party while she was a student at Oklahoma State University. After starting her life out working as a state employee for the Oklahoma Department of Securities and in hotel management in Oklahoma City, Mary was alarmed by the Democratic-dominated Legislature's anti-business climate. She first hit the political scene when she was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1990. She served 2 terms from 1990 to 1994 where she was recognized by the American Legislative Exchange Council as Legislator of the Year and named Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Business. She ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1994 and rode into office along with Frank Keating's Republican Administration in 1995.
In her 12 years as Lieutenant Governor, Mary served as president of the Senate and on 10 boards and commissions. As a small business advocate in the Keating cabinet she was also instrumental in initiating several economic development events including the first-ever Oklahoma Aerospace Summit and Expo; and Small Business Day and Telecommunications Day at the Capitol. She also hosted the Lieutenant Governor’s Invitational Turkey Hunt. After the Oklahoma City bombing, she formed a task force to rebuild the childcare center lost in the destruction. Additionally, she also initiated Project Homesafe, a gun safety program that has distributed more than 80,000 free cable gun locks to Oklahomans. She then ascended to the aforementioned position of congresswoman when elected in 2006, campaigning for Ernest Istook's 5th District seat after Istook embarked on his ill-fated run for governor against Brad Henry. For her work on behalf of the people of Oklahoma and her conservative values, Mary has been named a “Hero of the Taxpayer,” a “Friend of the Wildcatter” and been recognized by Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council with the “True Blue” award. She has a lifelong score of 96 from the American Conservative Union, the highest of any Congressman in the Oklahoma delegation.
Mary joined me this week to answer my questions about her accomplishment, her campaign, and the issues facing Oklahoma in this historic election cycle.
1. WHAT ARE THE ISSUES SPECIFICALLY FACING THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA TODAY AND WHAT ARE THE CORE VALUES OF YOUR CAMPAIGN?
I’m going to have two issues that I will treat as priorities on Day One of my administration. The first is jobs. We need more and better jobs in this state if we are going to move forward, generate tax revenue for essential services, and increase the quality of life for our citizens. There are a lot of things we can do to get there. One is to create a governor’s task force to look into Oklahoma’s tax code, our rules, our regulations and our government bureaucracy, to find out how we can be friendlier to small business growth and development. We can’t expect the businesses here to thrive or to attract new ones when we are tripping them up with unnecessary regulations, government red tape and punitive taxes. We’ll also need to look at the rising cost of worker’s compensation costs and revisit lawsuit reform. Finally, we’ll need to continue to improve our education system, so that we can produce the kind of highly skilled, educated workforce that attracts good jobs.
Secondly, we’ll need to balance the budget, and we’ll need to do it without raising taxes (which would drive jobs and investments out of Oklahoma).To do that, we need to be committed to fiscal restraint. We’ll need to make tough choices. And equally important, we’ll need a modern, efficient and effective state government. Our state agencies operate like 8-track players in an iPod age. They are out of date and inefficient. When I’m governor, we will immediately move to modernize our agencies, consolidate resources where we can, and trim our operating costs.
Mary has the perfect combination of executive and life experience for the governorship!
2. YOU ARE RUNNING AGAINST CURRENT LT GOVERNOR JARI ASKINS. CONTRAST YOURSELF WITH JARI AND TELL ME WHAT IT IS THAT SHE HAS DONE ALONG WITH GOVERNOR BRAD HENRY THAT HAS BEEN BAD FOR THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA?
I plan on running a positive campaign focused on my vision for the state and my plan to move Oklahoma forward and help our families and our small businesses. That means creating jobs, balancing our budget and, lastly, standing up to Washington’s painfully misguided agenda.
I think on that last point, the lack of leadership in this state has been particularly troubling. When President Obama was passing an unconstitutional, job-killing health care bill, I was the only candidate in this race standing up to the president and his agenda. When the president was trying to tax and spend his way to prosperity and economic recovery, I was the only candidate in this race saying “that won’t work.” I think the choice in this election is pretty clear: if you don’t like Washington’s ‘tax and spend,’ liberal agenda and want a leader who is going to stand up to it, I’m your gal.
3. REGARDING QUESTION 1, BRAD HENRY HAS PROVEN TO BE A POPULAR GOVERNOR FOR OKLAHOMA. HAS THIS PRESENTED EXTRA CHALLENGES FOR YOU IN THE RACE AGAINST JARI ASKINS?
No. This race is going to be about who the voters think will create jobs and restore fiscal discipline to the capitol, and it’s going to be about who can offer something different from what President Obama and Washington have been pushing on us. I have the experience to run this state, the vision to make a more prosperous Oklahoma and I am the only candidate who can credibly say they offer something different than the failed policies being pursued by the national Democratic Party. As lieutenant governor, I served under Brad Henry and I have a great deal of respect for him. But voters are looking for something different in 2010, and I am offering them a chance to change course and to get this state back on track.
Mary is the next leader of Rebublican for a new generation.
4. YOU HAVE SERVED AS A CONGRESSWOMAN FOR OKLAHOMA DISTRICT 5 FOR THE PAST 4 YEARS AND BEFORE THAT LT GOVERNOR OF OKLAHOMA FOR 12 YEARS. WHAT HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED IN YOUR TENURE IN THE CONGRESS THAT HAS HELPED PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR RUN FOR GOVERNOR?
Unfortunately, what I experienced in Washington was the sense that our nation’s capitol has become too partisan, too overrun with special interests and too willing to waste taxpayer dollars to help people in Oklahoma.
That’s why I’m coming home. Washington is not going to solve our problems; we are going to have to do it ourselves on the state level. I’m ready to lead Oklahoma forward and, when Washington pushes Oklahoma in the wrong direction or tramples our rights, to very forcefully say “no.”
5. YOU WERE RAISED IN TECUMSEH, HAVE BEEN REGIONAL MANAGER OF A HOTEL CHAIN, AND HAVE SEVERAL CHILDREN. WHAT KIND OF VALUES HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO TAKE INTO EACH OF THESE SITUATIONS AND HOW WILL THEY SERVE YOU WELL AS GOVERNOR OF OKLAHOMA?
I think the values my mother instilled in me – hard work, self reliance, civic duty and my faith in God have always guided me as a public servant. Those are the values I have tried to pass onto my children.
As far as my life experiences, I think I’ll be able to represent the people of Oklahoma well because I’m one of them. I grew up in a small town and I loved it. I went to school here. I worked in the private sector and I understand how things like rising health care costs can crush a small business. I’m a mother, and I know what it takes to raise a family – the hard work, the sacrifice and the joy that comes with helping your children grow up and become adults.
I’ve had the honor of serving the people of Oklahoma as their lieutenant governor and as a United States Congresswoman, and I’ve worked every day to earn their trust and to give back to this state. I can guarantee the people of Oklahoma that, if I have the great privilege of serving as governor, no one will work harder for them or care more about this state than I will.