Area legislators eager to greet area citizens Jan. 15 at Stillwater Public Library
(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Jan. 8, 2015) — Four Oklahoma legislators will be on hand at Stillwater Public Library on Thursday, Jan. 15, from 5-7 p.m. at a reception hosted by the Stillwater League of Women Voters, Stillwater Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee and the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library.
“The Legislative Reception is the perfect opportunity for citizens to get involved with our community,” said Lynda Reynolds, Stillwater Public Library director and member of the Friends of the Library. “This event gives you the chance to meet the people making important decisions for our community, to learn about the issues affecting our state and to get your own opinions heard.”
Sen. James Halligan and Reps. Dennis Casey, Lee Denney and Cory Williams will be on hand at the come and go event. All interested citizens are invited to attend.
“If you live in District 34, I work for you and you have my undivided attention,” said Williams. “It’s important to meet constituents at events like this so that I can get an accurate reading of the over-riding concerns affecting the community. If my chosen priorities don’t accurately reflect the concerns of the constituents, then I can readjust my priorities to fit their needs.”
Sen. Halligan believes meeting constituents helps build relationships and provides the public with more overall access to elected officials.
“It is important to question lawmakers concerning how they have voted in the past,” said Halligan. “It makes it easier for citizens to approach us about problems once they’ve already met us. I have never cared whether someone who has a request is either a Republican or a Democrat. My responsibility is to represent all of the people in Payne County.”
Rep. Casey believes that visiting his constituents helps him better perform his duties.
“The opportunity to learn is a daily event,” said Casey. “I appreciate people taking the time to be engaged and share their thoughts with me. Since we all have areas of expertise, it is very helpful when they share their expertise with me and it makes me a better legislator.”
The legislators will be taking questions and comments on all subjects, but certain issues and their effects on the community weigh most heavily on their minds.
For Sen. Halligan, adequate funding for all aspects of education and issues regarding the number and size of the tax credits given to various entities are some of the gravest issues affecting our community right now. Rep. Casey considers education and quality jobs on the top of the list of community concerns, and Rep. Williams thinks citizens across the state should be concerned about the effect the budget, dips in revenues and tax cut will have on state resources and services, including higher education and Career Tech.
“The concern specific to Stillwater though?” asked Williams. “Induced seismicity caused by high-pressure, high-volume injection wells.”
Event coordinators are hoping community members will share the same level of concern over local issues and express it by attending the reception. Are event coordinators concerned though that the public’s current overall disenchantment with politics will have a negative effect on the number of participants this year?
“It’s true. Trust among voters is low,” said Reynolds. “According to December’s Rasmussen Reports, just 7% of voters rate Congress’s performance as good or excellent and 66% think most members of Congress don’t care what their constituents think.
“It’s easy for community members to lose hope with the entire political system. But we have a great set of local legislators who are eager to hear our concerns. Despite their busy schedules and the hard work they are doing to prepare for reconvening the legislative session, our officials are making the time to come out to meet with us each and every year.”
Rep. Casey echoes concerns about the public’s mistrust in politics, but believes Oklahoma legislators work in such a way to combat one of the most dreaded parts of the political process.
“Trust is such a key, and when it is lost it is very difficult to regain. I believe the partisanship in politics is extremely frustrating, but in Oklahoma, even though we may be somewhat partisan over all, the parties work together for betterment of our citizens. It is never a challenge to vote for a good bill no matter what member presents it.”
And advice for members in Congress with low approval ratings?
“Be responsive and be responsible,” said Williams. “That’s it. You can’t be everything to everyone and you have to honestly let people know what you can and can’t do and what you do or do not believe in. Otherwise, it’s lip-service without actual service.”
Other elected officials invited include the Mayor and City Council, Payne County officials and the Stillwater Board of Education. Stillwater city management has also been invited to attend.
The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.). Library hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.