UU Church Today, Practice & Voice

Democracy in ACTION: ACTION Tulsa hosts Candidate Accountability Sessions in Tulsa Districts

ACTION Tulsa hosts Candidate Accountability Sessions in House Districts 69, 71, and 79

“We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major responsibility of it is participation.” —Wynton Marsalis

When was the last time you felt as though you were truly a participant in democracy?

If that answer doesn’t come quickly, keep reading. Your time has arrived.

On May 24, nearly 200 people—including about 30 from All Souls—joined ACTION Tulsa at “After the Walk Out” (ATWO) at Fellowship Congregational Church. The event marked the first of a series of public forums and accountability sessions aimed at educating voters and engaging with candidates. Heather Cody and Kara Rockholt, Tulsa-area teachers, recounted their experience walking from Tulsa to the state capital. David Blatt, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, described a growing movement involving parents, teachers, and other community members to influence state funding decisions for public education. The movement is gaining national attention, as exemplified this week by a “Letter from Oklahoma in The New Yorker, describing what writer Rivka Galchen calls “a democratic revival” in our state.

Ruth Richards attended ATWO, and said she was “heartened by the size of the crowd and moved by the tales the two teachers told of walking to the capital.” She said she plans to attend at least one of ACTION’s Candidate Accountability Sessions during the weeks leading up to the 2018 primary election on June 26.

ACTION has scheduled Candidate Accountability Sessions in House Districts 69, 71, and 79: 

House District 69:  4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 10 @ Joy Lutheran Church, 9940 S. Yale Ave.

  Democrat: Randall Scott Padek, Michael Albert Mitrik, Andy Richardson
  Republican: Sheila Dills, Chuck Strohm

House District 71:  2:00 p.m. Sunday, June 10 @ All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S. Peoria Ave.

  Democrat: Denise Brewer
  Republican: Cheryl Baber, Eric McCray, Mark Edward Kosinski, Ben Croff, Beverly Atteberry

House District 79:  7:00 p.m. Thursday, June 21 @ Bethany Christian Church, 6730 S. Sheridan Rd.

  Democrat: Melissa Provenzano, Brian Pingleton
  Republican: Dan Hicks, Karen Gilbert, Matthew Lee
  Independent: Teresa Marler

All candidates for each seat have been invited to hear the stories and concerns of constituents in their districts, and to share how they will address those issues if elected. You don’t have to live in the district to attend, and if you know someone who does live there, please share this invitation!

In fact, if you are a member or regularly attend All Souls, you are among those most directly affected by this election, because our church is located in District 71.

Visit the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Locate your state Senator and Representative website if you need more information about your district.

Why should you attend an Accountability Session?

Nik Renshaw, chair of the ACTION All Souls Core Team, offers several reasons why someone should consider attending one of these events. An accountability session is the perfect event to attend, he says, if:

  • you feel frustrated about how your legislator has responded to important issues facing your district and our state
  • you are interested in understanding those issues better
  • you want to know if candidates will work with ACTION on issues like education funding, criminal justice reform, mental health services, and healthcare
  • you want to make an informed decision between candidates about how you will cast your ballot in the June 26 Primary Election

Another important reason to attend—whether you live in one of the districts or not—comes from Sue Williams of the ACTION All Souls Core Team:  “These sessions will receive media coverage, and most of the candidates have agreed to participate.  Help us send the message to our legislators and candidates for office that voters are paying attention to what they say and that we will hold them accountable for their actions after they are elected.” 

Although Galchen’s article in the New Yorker focuses primarily on efforts to rebuild one particular party, it’s important to underscore one point:  ACTION Tulsa is a non-partisan organization. We seek to work with local leaders and elected officials, regardless of political affiliation, to better meet the needs of individuals and families in the Tulsa area.

What should you expect at a Candidate Accountability Session?

After collecting stories from hundreds of members of the 13 churches and community organizations that are part of ACTION Tulsa, Ros Elder (All Souls Core Team member) and her partners have written questions for the candidates that highlight specific issues facing individuals and families in Tulsa. Like a League of Women Voters’ forum, a moderator will control the session, and every candidate will be allowed to speak for two minutes in response to specific questions. At the end of the session, each candidate will be asked to make a commitment that if elected they will work with ACTION on the issues that are important to our member institutions.

Oklahoma voters are poised to re-shape our state Legislature in November by electing legislators who are more responsive to issues facing all Oklahomans. But we need you to join with us and exercise our power as members of All Souls, of the Tulsa community and, most importantly, as registered voters.

ACTION Tulsa is a partner organization with VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement) in Oklahoma City as well as affiliated nationally with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), which is the oldest and largest organizing network in the United States. The IAF operates under the West/Southwest IAF Network.

All Souls ACTION provides All Souls’ members, together with other community activists, a vehicle for a unified, citywide voice that compels policy and business leaders to more effectively address the needs and concerns of Tulsa’s families. This organization offers a unique opportunity for All Souls to demonstrate its values and traditions of social justice and community activism, and to put them into action, impacting public policies and practices.

Tami Moore is a member of the All Souls ACTION Core Team and beyondbelief.online contributor. Read more about ACTION on our blog.

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