Linda's Blog - Drew Edmondson for Governor Linda's Blog - Drew Edmondson for Governor

Resolutions

Resolutions

Most of my New Year’s resolutions don’t last long. Too ambitious. Too difficult. Or too easy, over and done. But I always make some. It is a time for new beginnings and new efforts to avoid old mistakes. For 2018 my resolutions are as wide as the state and as energized as the people I’ve met everywhere in 2017. All over the state Oklahomans want to change direction.

This past year, just like recent years, we saw failure and scandal at our state Capitol. There were stalemates and ultimatums. Partisanship seemed to be more important than real people’s problems. Passing the buck and ducking from duty were commonplace.

We can resolve to change all that. I have a vision for what change can look like.

We need an economy where all Oklahomans have access to good-paying jobs. Our kids need better-funded schools and our great teachers need increased pay for their hard work. We must make changes so that babies and children have access to doctors and medicine and hospitals close by.

We need leaders who exhibit good character, show the wisdom to understand our problems and the tenacity to make changes. We want leadership that is focused on ordinary people and how to make things better for them. Some politicians are focused on the politics of the next election because they want to keep their job. True leaders are focused on the 2018 election because it is our chance to make a change.

There is a lot of work to be done in this state. There is no doubt we are in a big hole. And while it won’t be quick or easy to move in a new direction, it can be done. We have to resolve to start now. We must resolve to keep the energy building toward the election in November 2018.

This year is crucial—we can’t continue doing things the same way.

So let’s enjoy these last few days of 2017, watch bowl games (or find things to do instead), keep eating holiday leftovers, take down the decorations.

On January 1 we need black-eyed peas for good luck and the biggest New Year’s resolution of all: In 2018, together, we can get going in a new direction. We can take back Oklahoma.

December Holidays

December Holidays

When you’re on the campaign trail, the December holidays can really sneak up on you. Hanukkah began this week and Christmas is less than two weeks away. I’ve been worrying like so many others: Do I have a gift for everyone? Where did I put the red ribbon? Who is cooking what and where are we going to gather to eat it all?

We are going to try to have a quiet, simple celebration this year. I was so lucky to hear Handel’s “Messiah” recently and the music instantly relieved holiday stress. It was a wonderful production presented by Canterbury Voices and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Civic Center. My favorite part is the very beginning, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people…” That clear high recitation always brings a welcome peace and calm to me.

But there is another song, “Getting Ready for Christmas Day,” that runs through my mind this time of year, too. It is written and sung by Paul Simon. While the lyrics invoke Christmas, the feelings they inspire are relevant to people of all religions. They convey our longing to provide well for our families, how we are lonely for those who can’t be with us, how we want to remember the real reasons we celebrate.

I can’t sum up my feelings better during the holidays than Simon does in this song. [You can listen on YouTube here — you will love the melody.] So I share his words with you now with sincere wishes that the holiday season brings you peace and joy.

From early in November to the last week of December
I got money matters weighing me down
Oh the music may be merry, but it’s only temporary
I know Santa Claus is coming to town
In the days I work my day job, in the nights I work my night
But it all comes down to working man’s pay
Getting ready, I’m getting ready, ready for Christmas Day

I got a nephew in Iraq it’s his third time back
But it’s ending up the way it began
With the luck of a beginner he’ll be eating turkey dinner
On some mountain top in Pakistan
Getting ready, oh we’re getting ready
For the power and the glory
And the story of Christmas Day

If I could tell my Mom and Dad that the things we never had
Never mattered we were always okay
Getting ready, oh ready, ready for Christmas Day
Ready, getting ready
For the power and the glory and the story of the Christmas Day

My Bulletin Boards

My Bulletin Boards

There is a bulletin board at our house that is a jumbled display of old and new pictures. My mom and dad at some long-ago church dinner, Drew and his brothers when Brian was just a baby, Mary’s christening picture just before Drew went into the Navy, a road in the hills of Adair County, and lots of our grandkids, of course. You know — you probably have pictures stuck up somewhere too.

Well, I also have a mental bulletin board, with snapshots and quotes from Oklahomans I’ve met on the campaign trail. Some are from previous races and some are from just a few days ago.

A strong middle-aged guy who made a living in construction told me his business partner had recently had a heart attack. $100,000 hospital bill. No health insurance. I’ll never forget the fear in his eyes and voice as he said, “What would happen to me and my family if I have a heart attack?”

A waitress bringing our breakfast at a home-town diner. “Aren’t you Drew Edmondson? You sent me to prison when you were DA.” I’m thinking, uh-oh. She went on, “I want to say thank you. I needed to go. I got clean and sober and passed my GED. I have my kids back now, and I’m working here, and I’m going to make it!” All three of us were in tears over the bacon and eggs.

And just the other day in southeastern Oklahoma I met an earnest young preacher who was worried about the cutbacks in mental health services. “I can do spiritual counseling, but not every person with mental illness needs that. Churches can’t do it all. We have to have mental health clinics too.” His eyes and his words were wise beyond his years.

Last week, as we finished helping bag up Thanksgiving dinner groceries at the Jesus House, a man came up to the warehouse door to ask when the turkeys would be given away. “Tomorrow morning, get here early!” was the reply from one of the workers. The man said, “I was trying to come this morning. I thought I had a ride but it didn’t work out. I’ll try to be here early tomorrow…” His desperate face is the newest picture on my mind’s bulletin board.

These people, their faces and voices, are what keep me going. I’m hoping Drew will win this race so he can put the people of Oklahoma first again. So many people feel left behind. Their voices are crying out and I can see their faces – on my mind’s bulletin board.

A Holiday Favorite, 100 Years in the Making

A Holiday Favorite, 100 Years in the Making

It’s hard to believe this week is Thanksgiving. With everything that’s going on in our world, I’m really looking forward to this holiday season. Hope you are too. Being with our family and friends brings us comfort and reinvigorates us in these uncertain times.

I’m looking forward to making my Applesauce Cake. I make it every year. The recipe is more than 100 years old, and it was passed down to me by my mother, Margaret Larason, who got it from her mother. It’s my favorite kind of dessert — not too sweet, full of spices, nuts, and raisins. Grandmother said this cake was often sent to the troops overseas during World War I because it stayed moist for so long. Try it! I hope you will like it.

P.S. If you make Applesauce Cake, would you send me a picture? It would be so fun to see other families enjoying grandmother’s recipe this year!

Linda's Applesauce Cake Recipe

“Deliciously Sentimental Thoughts”… From Vietnam

“Deliciously Sentimental Thoughts”… From Vietnam

Veterans are in my thoughts today, and troops on active duty, too, halfway around the world. Drew was in the Navy during the Vietnam War and was stationed near Saigon for a year. 9,000 miles away. It seemed like forever that he was gone from the kids and me. We relied on letters to stay in touch. We didn’t have any kind of social media and phone calls were rare and expensive. So we wrote to each other, daily, and our letters were totally at the mercy of postal delivery. Every day I checked the mail—hoping there would be something from Drew. I hoped that my letters, full of the mundane details of our daily life, gave Drew some relief from the mental and physical strains of war.

Last week I looked back at some of the things we wrote. Reading through them again brought it all back. I was afraid he might not come home to me and Mary and Robert, and that our lives might not ever be the same when he did return. I was managing two toddlers and a job and I didn’t want to do it alone. It’s been over 45 years, but those letters, and the memories, made me cry.

Drew wrote some beautiful letters to me. I don’t think I was as good at writing about my love for him. In one letter, from May 1971, he wrote: “…thinking deliciously sentimental thoughts of you… Next year at this time, I will have been home for over two months and you will probably be used to me again. But it will never be the same. From now on, whenever I get angry with you, I will think, but God, how terrible it was without her.”

A few months later he wrote, “Linda, I have no pressing subject to pursue; it’s just the kind of night I’d like to be sitting outdoors with you, talking about nothing in particular, except that’s not possible, so I’m writing. I miss the simple things so much. I’ll think about you; it’s a poor substitute for the real thing but far preferable to thinking of anything else. I love you. Always. Drew.”

Please remember our veterans this Veterans Day weekend and thank them for those months and years of their lives spent so that we can live in safety and freedom. And keep our active service men and women in your thoughts and prayers, too. Those who stand as shields between us and all those who would do us harm need our prayers and heartfelt gratitude – every day.

And, for the veteran in my home, let me end by saying this to you: I love you, too. Always.

Linda

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it has made me think of two dear friends. Both strong wonderful women have had breast cancer, and one is currently facing a recurrence and dealing with treatment.

My friends are among the 1 in 8 American women who develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetime.

Not too long ago the simple tools for early detection and savings lives – annual breast screenings and mammography for women – were not fully covered by all insurance. Now they are. These healthcare reforms were hard-fought, and it’s important they remain fully intact as healthcare continues to be debated in Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C.

Leaders in Washington seem to want more decisions in the hands of insurance companies. Fourteen percent of our citizens still have no insurance at all. Oklahoma is 48th in the nation for healthcare. This is just another list where we are at the bottom.

We shouldn’t allow healthcare to be so political. Women should not be treated as pawns in the healthcare debate. As a state, as a nation, we have to do better.

This is what you can do right now if you are a woman reading this blog: Please make sure you are conducting breast self-exams, scheduling annual clinical breast exams and getting annual mammograms if you are over age 40.

Life gets busy and sometimes as women to put the needs of our families first. Yet we can’t neglect our own well-being. Our healthcare — women’s healthcare — is family healthcare.

Keeping us mothers and grandmothers healthy keeps our entire families healthy, too.

— Linda

P.S. – Please hold a good thought for both my friends, and say a special prayer today for your friends with breast cancer. Thanks.

The One About Duct Tape and Education

The One About Duct Tape and Education

Duct tape was invented during World War II to waterproof ammunition cases. I don’t think its inventors imagined it being used 75 years later to hold Oklahoma kids’ textbooks together. Yet it is. When the campaign did a survey a few weeks ago on what Oklahomans saw as the state’s top neglected priorities, one math teacher told us, “I am a career math teacher … My math textbooks are 12 years old and held together by duct tape. We do the best we can with what we have, which is very little.”

This teacher isn’t unusual. Nine out of every 10 people who responded to the survey begged for education and the state’s failed budgeting system to be Drew’s top priorities. They will be.

We should apologize to the whole generation of students going through our schools right now. They are not getting the resources they need to succeed. Our current leaders have shortchanged them, leaving teachers and children to find some way to pay the bill. At best, it’s leadership apathy. At worst, it’s neglect. Either way it’s inexcusable.

I never thought today’s schoolchildren would have fewer resources than when Drew and I were in school, or when Drew was a speech and debate teacher at Muskogee High School. I never thought we’d move backward.

Yet, today, 1 out of every 5 Oklahoma school districts operates only four days a week. Class sizes in our biggest towns are the largest they’ve ever been. Compared to the states that border us, we invest $1,500 less per student per year. Our teachers are fleeing to Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas for better paying jobs, $19,000 more in the case of our previous Oklahoma Teacher of the Year from Norman, Shawn Sheehan.

It’s obvious our situation will not get better until we have leaders in office whose priority is this generation and not their own political future. There isn’t a person more committed to uniting all Oklahomans in this cause than Drew.

I’ll keep writing about education in this blog and I hope you’ll share what you learn here and help us speak truth to power. There are many other organizations working to change things, like the Save our State Coalition, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, the Oklahoma Education Association, and the Oklahoma Policy Institute. They share information to help you have effective discussions with lawmakers and I encourage you to follow them, too.

We can give Oklahoma’s children the 21st century education they deserve. They need it to have a brighter future. It doesn’t require duct tape. It requires bold leadership and that’s my husband, Drew Edmondson.

Opening a window

Opening a window

Hello, my name is Linda Edmondson. I’m a social worker, mother, very proud grandmother, and, yes, I’m also the wife of that great guy running for Oklahoma governor–Drew Edmondson.

I was born and raised on a farm near Fargo, Oklahoma. My parents were Bert and Margaret Larason. Dad served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and represented Ellis County. I remember vividly how he loved serving the folks of Fargo, Gage, Shattuck and Arnett. My mother taught English and several other subjects at Fargo School.

Dad and Mom taught me how to talk to people, about the impact of the right words spoken or written at the right time. They said that on earth, God’s work is surely up to us. I believe that, and I’ve tried to live a life that reflects that conviction.

It’s why I decided to start this blog. I want it to be a window into the soul of this campaign. I want it to give voice to the many Oklahomans struggling in our state who desperately need advocates fighting and speaking truth to power for them.

Drew and I have been out on the campaign trail all summer. We’ve been listening to Oklahomans’ hopes, their dreams and their ideas for better government, and we’ve heard about their fears, too. These meaningful conversations with new and old friends warm our hearts. But many have brought tears, too.

There are a lot of Oklahomans who are hurting. As I bring their stories to you in the weeks and months ahead, I hope together we can help them and begin the process of getting this state back on track. I also hope this blog will bring attention to the heroes across our state – those brave men and women who are doing God’s work on earth – and that you’ll be inspired to join me in lending them a hand. There are a lot of good things going on in Oklahoma, even in these tough times.

Drew and I are taking our message right to you, to your main streets, neighborhoods, cafes, festivals and parades. But a campaign is a two-way street. Yes, campaigns give voters a chance to hear from the candidate. But Drew and I believe the real value of a campaign is the opportunity it gives us to hear from you – the voters.

So as you read this blog or we see you on Drew’s Take Back Oklahoma Tour this fall, please reach out to us. An email, letter or a post on social media sharing your story would mean a lot. Power to the people is what this campaign, and this blog, is all about.