KT: I thought we’d start with why you decided to run for District 30 State Representative.
CT: I thought you’d ask that. It started with the teacher walkout. Whenever teachers have to go to that extreme to get some action from the legislature, that tells me there’s something wrong. Of course you know about the 75 percent rule for revenue increases, and that has been a big roadblock to getting something done. But it was the lack of support that we got from the legislature for the teachers that really energized me.
I was at 41st and Yale holding up signs during the walkout. I saw Dr. Gist there. I saw her every day on the walk to Oklahoma City, and kudos to her for doing that. People were honking horns and giving thumbs up, and I thought “This is a movement.”
We have cut the budget in Oklahoma to the point where people are really feeling the impact. They don’t like it. They want a change. That was the final impetus to get me to run for office.
But my disappointment and disenchantment with our government here in Oklahoma started before that and has been going on for a number of years now. It began with something I know a lot of people are aware of because I’ve been very vocal about it — the pollution in our creeks and streams. I recently found out, and maybe I should have known this because of our budget shortfalls, but not only has education been cut by double digits, but the Department of Environmental Quality has also been cut by double digits every year for almost ten years. The result is, they don’t have what it takes to enforce the laws of Oklahoma.
Most of our state agencies have taken such drastic cuts they are not able to serve the people of Oklahoma like they need to, like the people of Oklahoma need them to. Education, for instance; every child in Oklahoma deserves a quality education, and we are not able to provide that for them.
Those two things combined, and the support I had from those who heard my story about pollution or saw me out supporting the teachers, drove me to run for office. So I am running to be State Representative for House District 30.
KT: Can you tell a bit about your work history and why that qualifies you for this position?
CT: Sure. I was hired on at Southwestern Bell Telephone, December 31, 1973. I worked for them for 29 years. I was hired on as a cable splicer’s helper and I left as a long-range planning engineer.
So I’ve already been in a career where you have to plan ahead, and if you don’t plan ahead you’re going to have poor performance. At Southwestern Bell Telephone I had to work with many different departments to achieve optimal results. This required building consensus among those departments and sometimes thinking outside the box. We had to meet our needs with limited budgets that often times were cut at mid-year. Providing customer service and meeting their expectations was our top priority. My performance was rated exceptional, and I got several awards while I was there, so I’m a competent person.
What else qualifies me to run for this office is that I’m not a rich person. I have an average income. I’m just a person of the people. Whenever I go talk to people they agree with what I say. I know what’s going on out there and we agree.
One other qualification, I was employed by we the people. The people of the United States. I was in the army and served 13 months in Vietnam. I am also a member of the Disabled American Veterans Association. I love this country and I love this state. I want to do whatever I can to make this the greatest state in our nation, and anything I can do to make our nation the greatest nation in the world.
I also coach my granddaughter’s soccer team and volunteer five days a week at her elementary school.
KT: I don’t know if you’ve met the three other candidates, but what makes you more qualified than they are for the office?
CT: I haven’t met Mr. Glesener. I did meet Mr. Rowland and I certainly think he is a nice gentleman. And I have met Mark Lawson several times.
Let’s just start with Mr. Lawson, why am I more qualified than him? Well, I’m a man of my word, and I’ll meet my commitments. I’m not going to tell somebody I’m going to do something unless I will give it everything I have to get it done. That’s what made me a great engineer at Southwestern Bell. I also believe in rules and regulations. That’s what makes our society work so well. Mr. Lawson, while he was campaigning in 2016, promised me in a campaign meeting that he would do everything he could to solve my pollution problem in the creek that crosses my five acres. Since the election he has done nothing. He did promise to come out to a meeting in 2017, and then two days before that meeting he canceled. He has done nothing to meet his commitment to me, to solve a problem that anybody would want done.
Nobody wants somebody else’s sewage water coming across their property. Anybody in my position, with a nice wet-weather creek running through their property and with a nine year old granddaughter who wants to play in the creek, would want it cleaned up to the point that their grandchild could play in the creek.
Mr. Rowland, again I’m sure he is a nice guy and a good businessman, but I think that I am more in touch with the people and what the people want. I would probably say the same with Mr. Glesener.
I am in touch with the people of House District 30.
KT: I saw that you are the founder of Clean Up Our Creeks, and you mentioned a little bit about your own creek, but can you tell me about that project?
CT: The purpose of clean up our creeks is obviously to do just that, but we also have an awareness campaign. We’re trying to make the people of Oklahoma aware of how mad this situation is and the reasons for it, and hopefully bring about a change and the legislative level by having the citizens of Oklahoma make complaints.
One of the things that we have done that we are most proud of is a parody video we’ve released on our social media platforms. I hope that your readers might want to watch it. I think that most people will find it very funny.
KT: What are two or three of the biggest issues for you?
CT: Well I have three big issues. My number one issue is education. I feel like I also have a simpatico with teachers. My dad was a school teacher in Sand Springs for 29 years, and raised five boys on a school teachers salary … well, he was also a carpenter, a roofer, a sheet rocker, framer, anything that he could do to put food on the table for five boys.
I lived that life of being poor poor poor because my dad had chosen, with a college degree, to be a school teacher. I admired him for that and I admire all the school teachers we have in Oklahoma for choosing that profession.
A lot of people will say they do it because it’s their calling and they enjoy it. They use those as excuses for paying them much less than they are worth. My response to that is, I enjoyed being an engineer. I think it was my calling to work with numbers as an engineer, but I got paid well for that. Why shouldn’t these professionals get paid well?
I’m very strong on education. As I mentioned I volunteered in my granddaughter’s school five days a week when she was in kindergarten and first grade. That was a wonderful experience for me, but it was bittersweet because I could see how the teachers were struggling. They didn’t have the supplies they needed to perform their job.
The second leg of my platform is the environment. As you mentioned, I have this non-profit organization called Clean Up Our Creeks. We have to protect our environment and save it for our children. It’s so sad whenever my granddaughter tells me “I wish I could play in that creek, but I know I can’t.” Luckily, I have a seperate pond on my property that she can play in because we’ve tested it. We tested it in the pond in was nine E.coli colonies per 100 milliliters. In the creek on the same day it was over 2,419 colonies per 100 milliliters. The Tulsa Health Department says any amount over 200 is unsafe for skin contact.
What no legislatures never consider is, suppose I hadn’t been vigilant. Suppose I hadn’t been as they say “an alarmist” and my granddaughter had gotten into that creek? She would have gotten seriously sick with heart or kidney failure, colitis. Serious consequences could have happened.
The third leg of my platform is accountability. We read about it all the time in the newspapers. How this agency or that agency is doing something wrong. They’re not handling their funds properly, they say they need money and come to find out they had money stashed away somewhere else, they are just not being responsible to the people. My particular case is a glaring example about how horrible they are at protecting the environment.
It’s a serious concern that we don’t have our state agencies enforcing the laws of this state. We need ou state agencies and legislators to be accountable. Just in the last two years, I can’t tell you the number of legislators that have had to leave their jobs because of bad behaviour.
KT: Is there anything else we haven’t addressed that you think the voters need to know?
CT: I am not aware that any of the other three candidates in this race have ever put on the uniform of this nation and served their country. I think that is an extra qualification for me to run for office in that I have risked my life for this country, I served my time in the military and I am a very strong patriot.
I’ve been talking to people, and I am truly amazed and certainly appreciate the number of people that are in step with me, or that I’m in step with. If these people will vote on June 26, they will have a state representative at the capital that represents them.