Cathy Cummings has always been interested in state government but rearing five children kept her out of the political arena.
“I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring,” said Cummings, D-the Village.
Cummings hopes voters will choose her as their next lieutenant governor. She began considering running for office a couple of years ago when learning that more than 900 bills nationwide had been introduced against women, Cummings said.
“Trying to pinpoint just one — there’s too many,” she said.
Incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has not made a formal announcement that he will seek reelection, according to his office.
“You finally get to that point where you are fed up. You feel you have to say something,” Cummings said. “I have three daughters and I am just not going to take this. I am going to get off my rear end and do something about it.”
A small business advocate, Cummings and her husband Sean have businesses next door to each other in Oklahoma City. Cathy owns Vitos Ristorante. Next door is the Sean Cummings’ Irish Pub.
Women make up only 12-13 percent of elected officials in Oklahoma, Cummings said.
“Why are not more women getting involved?” she continued. “I think it is a bullying kind of thing.”
Abortion is a hot topic, Cummings said. Her position as a Catholic mother is pro-life for her personally, she said. However, Cummings said she will defend another woman’s right to choose whether or not to have a child.
Three issues are the focus of her candidacy. She wants to increase tourism because it is the state’s third biggest money maker. The state’s education system is in dire need of reform, Cummings said.
Every child in Oklahoma deserves the right to education, but the current system is not fair for impoverished children, she said. The state’s grading system is flawed, she said.
“We’re giving these schools an A through F grade,” Cummings said. “But really if you’re in school, you might get an A for English, a B in social studies and an F or a D in science. So, how can you give one grade to a school?”
Some schools have more parents attending parent-teacher conferences, she said. Not all schools have school nurses and the same amount of counselors per student, she said.
“They are not on a level footing at all,” Cummings said. “Some of the more poor schools, the kids are hungry and cannot perform at a good level the way they should. Maybe their parents have to work the night of parent-teacher conferences.”
One out of four children in Oklahoma City don’t know where there next meal is coming from, she said.
Cummings went undercover as a lunch lady working at Taft Middle School in Oklahoma City. Taft is the test kitchen for Oklahoma City Public Schools. Students need a balanced diet to perform effectively, she said.
“The food was horrible — not all of it — but there were definitely things that needed to be improved,” she said. “They’re not actually cooking anything. They’re reheating frozen processed foods, a lot of starches.”
One way to help education is to increase the standard of living in rural communities, she said. A year ago she and her husband created the website, daytripok.com, to boost Oklahoma’s tourism. The Cummingses visited all 77 counties in the state of Oklahoma, highlighting points of interest for economic growth. In fact, Cummings plans to walk across Oklahoma to promote the state.
“I think there is so much that we have to offer that people don’t know about,” Cummings said. “Oklahoma is full of energy — 4 million smiles — that’s what we have to sell.”
Go to the Blackberry Festival in McLoud if you want to step into a Norman Rockwell painting, she said. The blackberries are so big they explode in your mouth, she said.
“And turtle races are just down home family friendly,” Cummings said. “I just think we have a lot of that to offer.”
The Rattlesnake Festival in Apache is another example of a family day trip that is affordable, she said.
Cummings likes hands-on involvement with Oklahomans. In November, she and her husband spent a month living on minimum wage salaries of $7.25 an hour. She worked the equivalent of a $7.25 an hour job at an Oklahoma City grocery store.
Working minimum wage had them choosing between food, prescriptions, utilities and other basic needs. Sean and Cathy lost weight and not on purpose. She sold blood for $35 so that her son could drive to Tulsa to play in a football game.
“We really had to come up with ideas to try to figure out how to do Thanksgiving for our kids,” she said. “It was nearly impossible. We were living like peasants in Mexico.”
Cummings believes the state should raise the minimum wage benefit to $10.50 an hour. As a business owner, the suggestion of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is too high, she said.
“It certainly can’t stay at $7.25,” she said. “…I know as lieutenant governor I can’t make policies, but I can shed light on it,” she said.
Candidates may file for statewide elections at the state Capitol April 9-11. The primary election is June 24 with a runoff primary election set for Aug. 26. The general election is Nov. 4.
TO LEARN more about Cathy Cummings, go to http://www.voteforcathy.com.
Cathy Cummings has always been interested in state government but rearing five children kept her out of the political arena.
- Local News
Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated
When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
“When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.
OC welcomes missionary, military families
For the ninth consecutive year Oklahoma Christian University will host missionary and military families returning to the United States at Global Reunion 2014.
The July 23-27 camp has doubled in size in the last two years with 150 participants from 43 countries on campus.
The camp is for children who are known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs) though parents are allowed to attend sessions as well. Directors Kent and Nancy Hartman, missionaries-in-residence at OC, give tools and resources to families that have lived outside the United States and are now seeking to reenter U.S. culture. The Hartmans spent more than 10 years as missionaries in Australia and were surprised by the challenges of reintegrating their family into America.
Planning Commission approves rezoning
The Edmond Planning Commission this week voted 4-0 in favor of rezoning from a single family district. Peter and Kimberly Roberts made the request to allow a planned unit development on the southeast corner of Jackson and Lincoln Avenue, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
“They would like to have D-2 family (neighborhood commercial) zoning for duplexes, 14,000 square feet,” Schiermeyer said. “They can put four units on the property.”
Out of the stressful wreckage: Scholarships for car crash victims
After the dust has settled, the injuries have healed and there’s a replacement car in the driveway, victims of automobile accidents often still face an uphill battle trying to move on with their lives. According to psychologists, for some the fear never really goes away. It’s common enough that the National Institutes of Health gives physicians specific recommendations for patients exhibiting acute stress symptoms and PTSD after motor vehicle accidents. With more than 3 million injury accidents a year nationwide, the San Francisco Bay Area personal injury law firm Appel Law Firm LLP, sees their share of the aftermath — only they decided to do something about it.
Agencies ask for volunteers to support grandparents who raise grandchildren
Local law enforcement agencies are helping Sunbeam Family Services provide much-needed school supplies to grandparents who are faced with the challenge of raising their grandchildren. According to a recent census poll, there are nearly three million grandparents raising more than five million grandchildren in the United States.
Ganns earn Yard of the Week honors
This week’s “Edmond Yard of the Week” winner has been in existence for 44 years at 105 Barbara Drive, but looks fresh and new thanks to longtime residents Betty and Gordon Gann as they fill their garden spaces to overflowing with colors and textures.
Krazy Daze hits downtown Edmond
Newly transplanted Edmond residents Hannah Brenning, Cheyenne Middle School 8th grader; Jordan Brenning, Cross Timbers 4th grader; and Sydney Brenning, North High School freshman; check out the items in front of Sterling's in downtown Edmond during the Krazy Daze Sale lasting through Saturday. Businesses will open their doors at 10 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m.
Chances for rain to follow triple-digit highs
Chances for rain on multiple days will follow near triple-digit highs during the weekend.
A National Weather Service-issued heat advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday and afternoon temperatures are expected to top out in the upper 90s to lower 100s into the weekend. Maximum heat-index values will range from the upper 90s to 105-110 degrees through Sunday.
Cooler weather is expected next week as a strong cold front passes over the region.
Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage
Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
“It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
“If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
“We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
“I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.
Firefighters sharpen forced entry skills
Of all burglaries, 60.5 percent involved forcible entry, according to recent FBI statistics.
As a result, many home and businesses are installing a greater number of complex mechanisms on their doors and windows. Edmond Fire Maj. Joe Elam said 10 local firefighters recently sharpened their skills during a forcible entry class offered by IRONS and LADDERS, LLC., of Lawrence, Kan.
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