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The Race for Oklahoma Governor: Democratic Party nominee Joy Hofmeister

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Capitol Insider talks to the Democratic Party nominee for governor of Oklahoma: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.


Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider - taking you inside politics, policy, government…and elections…in Oklahoma. I'm Dick Pryor with Quorum Call publisher Shawn Ashley. Our guest is State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, Democratic Party nominee for governor. Thanks for taking the time to visit with us.

Joy Hofmeister: Oh, it's so good to be with you, Dick and Shawn, appreciate it.

Dick Pryor: What have you learned about the concerns and needs of Oklahomans during this campaign?

Joy Hofmeister: I have traveled all over the state, actually. We've been talking about over 500,000 miles on my SUV, traveling all over Oklahoma, listening to families and business leaders as well as community leaders. And I hear common themes that people want world class schools, that they want safe and healthy communities and the infrastructure for great jobs. This is about building a robust economy. And Oklahomans are ready for change to get this done.

Shawn Ashley: What do you see as the biggest threats to Oklahoma?

Joy Hofmeister: You know, I think the biggest threats that we have rest in division and the extremism of Governor Kevin Stitt. He is sowing chaos and division and he is running our state into the ground. And it is very clear that the majority of Oklahomans have an unfavorable view of the governor due to his self-dealing, cronyism and corruption.

Dick Pryor: As you meet with voters around the state, what are you telling them will be your top priorities from a policy standpoint if elected governor?

Joy Hofmeister: Well, it's about bringing balance and ensuring that families, communities, and our state are thriving. And that is built on a base of three areas. We know that Governor Stitt has threatened our public schools. Dismantling public schools is never going to be the way you could build the workforce that's needed for our economy. So, I am against the governor's voucher scheme, which is a rural school killer. Kill the school. You kill the community.

And we also know that the governor wants to privatize Sooner Care. The people spoke. They wanted Medicaid expansion. We know that our doctors and our hospitals need this kind of every dollar that can come into the state and get to patients. And I stand against the governor's efforts to put corporations in between the patient and the doctor. And I want to see freedom for Oklahomans to make their own health care decisions.

Finally, we we know that the infrastructure for great jobs begins with partnerships, with broadband access, with the infrastructure of, you know, safe water, of safe roads. But we also know that those relationships are vital, whether that be listening to experts in critical industries in Oklahoma or it be the relationships of tribal sovereign nations here in Oklahoma that have a $15.5 billion economic impact per year on our state's economy. And collectively, they are the largest employer in the state. All of this has to work together. And Oklahomans want a leader who can unite people, not pit neighbor against neighbor and move the state forward.

Shawn Ashley: Generally, before a challenger can defeat an incumbent, they have to make the case that the incumbent should not be reelected. And you've already addressed some of this. Why, in your opinion, should Kevin Stitt not be reelected governor of Oklahoma?

Joy Hofmeister: Kevin Stitt is reading off a national script. He is self-dealing. He is someone who is putting himself over the people of Oklahoma. I am running understanding that this is public service and that Oklahoma belongs to the people. I tell folks that we need to have boards and commissions that have people serving on those boards that reflect and represent the communities that those policy decisions are going to impact, not buddies of of the governor.

We need to have the kind of leader that also is more transparent and that actually will hold those agencies and the use of public dollars accountable to the people. And we also need a governor who can close the deal. We have seen this governor tout his business acumen, but he has clearly shown that he cannot close the deal, even with those many that have tried to be attracted to the state where Chambers have worked so hard to make it clear that Oklahoma's a wonderful place to be. The feedback is we have a governor that doesn't get that connection of having an educated, healthy workforce and how you improve the standing of Oklahoma so that we can attract industry leaders.

Dick Pryor: The next step in winning over voters is making your own case. So again, how would your leadership be different than the current governor?

Joy Hofmeister: Well, it's very different because I'm a collaborative leader. I like to bring people from a wide variety of viewpoints together at the same time and hear from them. And a governor needs to be discerning, but you also have to do the hard work of building consensus around tough problems, challenging issues and lingering needs that Oklahoma has endured for far too long. We know that we have a governor today that is not working well with the legislature or with community leaders or municipalities.

I am an Oklahoman who raised four kids here. My husband, Jerry, and I raised our kids around the values of faith and family, education and hard work. And we want to get back to what most Oklahomans value: common sense, respect for one another, working together and getting things done for the people of Oklahoma. I'm aggressively moderate. Always have been and always will be. And I like to say, meet me in the middle and let's get something done for the people of Oklahoma.

Shawn Ashley: You just mentioned being a collaborative leader and you have been stressing unity rather than division. How do you propose to do that in this highly polarized political environment and as a Democrat in a staunchly Republican state?

Joy Hofmeister: Oh, that's a very good question. And I'm so glad to get to speak to this. I have a track record of working with people that have different views than my own. But I also know that politics is about relationships. This is something the governor doesn't get. It is something that you learn. And actually, as we've been working with 500 and some districts all across the state, they have different needs, they have different perspectives.

And when you have to set policy that is going to impact all of them in their communities, you begin by showing respect. Bringing people to the table. Staying informed on a regular basis. Not just when it suits you so that you have clear communication and trust. This is how you can help see around the corners as a leader and stay ahead of problems before they become a crisis or another scandal, as we have seen under this governor.

Dick Pryor: There are four candidates on the ballot. Why should voters choose Joy Hofmeister?

Joy Hofmeister: Oh, thank you for that question. The answer is Oklahomans want a leader that they feel will listen and that is actively engaged in understanding the perspectives of all Oklahomans. And that's what I'm doing. Again, I've traveled all over the state. I started that when I first stepped into the race for state superintendent. And there were people who said, oh, you shouldn't go to that community, or, oh, this is where you need to focus.

I'm not willing to turn my back on one inch of Oklahoma. Every single Oklahoman matters to me. Oklahoma belongs to the people, and I am here ready to focus on the values that we all have in common. And we must stand against the governor who is pandering partisan extremism that that is pitting neighbor against neighbor, that is sowing chaos and division.

As a businesswoman, I know that the business and industry do not thrive on uncertainty or instability. Families need that same stability. And when we have a leader that is thoughtful and is willing to do the hard work of bringing people together around those common needs - education, health, and infrastructure for great jobs - we can have a robust economy. I believe we're at a tipping point and it matters who is elected governor.

And I believe I am the best to be able to bring our state to a place where our kids want to return to Oklahoma after they have graduated and they pursue a career and a high paying job, maybe in another state. Well, I want to keep them here. I know what that's like as a parent. And just eight months ago, I became a grandmother and I have a granddaughter. And I'm thinking about her future and the future of 700,000 school kids that we've all been working to support.

Dick Pryor: Democratic nominee for governor, Joy Hofmeister, thanks again for being our guest on Capitol Insider.

Joy Hofmeister: Thank you so much.

Dick Pryor: If you have questions, e-mail them to news@kgou.org or contact us on Twitter @kgounews and @QuorumCallShawn. You can find audio and transcripts at kgou.org. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.

Dick Pryor has more than 25 years of experience in public service media, having previously served as deputy director, managing editor, news manager, news anchor and host for OETA, Oklahoma’s statewide public TV network. He was named general manager of KGOU Radio in November, 2016.
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