By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On September 30, VOICE OKC will hold another Accountability Session featuring candidates for Oklahoma Governor and State Superintendent at 3 p.m. at St. John Missionary Baptist Church. The event is free and open to the public.
VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement) is a coalition of congregations, nonprofits, and worker associations in the Oklahoma City metro area.
Each participating candidate will speak and answer questions related to VOICE’s agenda of issues in education, criminal justice reform, predatory lending, and access to healthcare.
The Oklahoma general election will be held on Tuesday, November 6.
“This is a very important election,” notes the Rev. Dr. Major Lewis Jemison, Senior Pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist and VOICE leader. “Public education and many other efforts are at a critical point in our state. Solid leadership that is responsive to Oklahomans and their concerns has never been more important.”
“As people of faith, we believe that every child of God deserves a quality public education and access to health care, including mental health services,” affirms the Rev. Dr. Diana Davies, Minister at First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City and VOICE leader.
“We also believe in recognizing the basic human dignity and human rights of the immigrants among us, not shackling our young people with crippling student loan debts, fighting against the greed and corruption of predatory lenders, and changing our criminal justice system so that it offers opportunities for reform and renewal, and not only life-long punishment,” Davies said.
“It’s time for those of us who hold these values to join together in holding our elected representatives accountable for their actions. By showing up in numbers – over 1000 strong – at the VOICE accountability session, we will show our political candidates that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
The accountability session will include stories from Oklahoman who are struggling with the real impacts of policymakers’ action and, sometimes inaction. Candidates will be asked to state their positions and willingness to work with citizens on those concerns, if elected.
“For all of us who were at the Capitol last spring, and for those who weren’t, now is when we need to show up to the polls and be informed voters,” said Dr. Jim Gragg, president of the VOICE Education Fund. “VOICE accountability sessions are like no other public event for candidates. In these, we share our concerns, ask them to listen, and then to respond clearly regarding their position.”
VOICE is a nonpartisan group that does not endorse or support specific candidates. The organization does work to develop members’ skills in working effectively within the democratic process with civic leaders and public officials on issues of concern to families.