OKLAHOMA CITY, OK –VOICE OKC will hold another Accountability Session on Sunday, September 30, this time featuring candidates running for Oklahoma Governor and State Superintendent. The event will be held at 3 p.m. at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 5700 N Kelley Avenue in Oklahoma City. The event is free and open to the public.
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 six candidates on the November 6 ballot for these two races have been invited to participate.
“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.”
VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement) is a coalition of congregations, nonprofits, and worker associations in the Oklahoma City metro area.
“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,” she added. “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.”
Event organizers say the session will include stories from Oklahomans who are struggling with the 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 works to develop members’ skills in working effectively within the democratic process with civic leaders and public officials on issues of concern to families.
In the past, the group has organized similar events for candidates running for Oklahoma County Sheriff, Oklahoma City Council, OKC School Board, and legislative races in central Oklahoma. They are planning additional sessions in October with candidates running for Oklahoma’s Congressional District 5 and Insurance Commissioner.
“This will probably be the largest group of voters gathered for a candidate event in this campaign season,” said VOICE leader Sundra Flansburg. “It’s about a 1,000-voter strong group inviting all of the candidates for these two races in order to understand their positions clearly in relation to our concerns. And to get their public agreement when at all possible to work with us on those issues should they be elected. We hope and expect every candidate to be there.”