Edmond Democrat Tom Guild announced his candidacy this week for the 5th Congressional District of Oklahoma. Guild said his “soft announcement” is to alert his supporters that he is a candidate. A formal announcement of his candidacy is being planned for early February, he said.
“We plan to emphasize three main issue: Social Security, Medicare and transparency in campaign finance,” said Guild, 57.
This announcement mark’s Guild’s second run for Congress after a loss to former Democrat Billy Coyle in 2008. So far, no other Democrats have announced their candidacy for the 5th District. The office is currently held by Congressman James Lankford, R-Edmond, who plans to file for re-election in April, said William Allison, Lankford’s communications director.
Guild taught political science and legal studies for 27 years at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, where he was given the title of professor emeritus by the board of regents. For three years, he taught in the Master of Business program at Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business before his retirement in 2009.
The official filing period for candidates is set for April 11-13, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board. The statewide primary will be June 26, with a runoff primary election on Aug. 28. The general statewide election will be Nov. 6.
“Tom is the polar opposite of James Lankford,” said Pam Paul, campaign manager. “So if you don’t agree with the majority of what James Lankford stands for then you need to vote for Tom. It’s a no brainer. People vote against their best interest and they have to realize they have to vote differently.”
Paul said she plans a candidate forum to contrast how Guild and Lankford would vote on issues. Progressives would certainly vote for Guild, she said. So Guild’s campaign will focus on the state’s progressive base, which is not being represented by Lankford, Paul said.
“I think the only reason why people like Lankford is because he has a religious platform,” Paul said. “We can focus on the fact that his base is focused on a religious following and not a true issue following.”
David Gwinn said he supports Guild because he will turn 65 in December. Guild has the best interests of senior citizens at heart, he said. Medicare and Social Security are important to protect for seniors, he said.
“It’s vital to that part of the American dream,” Gwinn said.
Congressional Republicans want young people to withdraw from Social Security by accepting a voucher system, Gwinn said. This action would eliminate a funding pool of people younger than 55 who would ordinarily pay into that system, Gwinn said.
“Whether they know it or not, people who are pitting people who are 55 against people who are 54 and younger, they are engaging in despicable generation warfare,” Guild said.
Edmond resident Iris Lochner said Guild is somebody who has pulled himself up by the bootstraps. He represents 99 percent of the American population, particularly in Edmond.
“They have to realize they are voting against their own self-interest when they vote Republicant,” Lochner said. “And I did put a ‘t’ at the end of that.”
Guild said he was born an underdog to a poor family who survived on government commodities.
“We would have starved to death without government commodities. I just don’t buy the argument that the government can’t do anything right, because I know the government’s programs and generosity kept our family alive.”
When his parents divorced, Guild was without proper clothes, shoes or lunch money in school. He was abandoned and lived in the foster system until Dr. Carl Guild and his wife Freda adopted him.
Guild graduated from Bartlesville Sooner High School, then went on to the University of Oklahoma and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science while on academic scholarship. He attended law school on academic scholarship at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he received a juris doctorate degree.
He created Tommy’s Fund for students at Payne Elementary in Wichita, Kan., where he attended kindergarten and first grade. The fund provides four children each year with $200 for school clothes and supplies. Each year, Guild awards a $500 scholarship to one student who plans to pursue a career in law or public service.
The government commodities program was a precursor to food stamps, Guild said.
“So when you talk about doing things drastic like the Republicans in Congress passing the Ryan Plan — that’s drastic,” Guild said. “The Republicans in Congress and the House of Representatives voted unanimously to end Medicare as we know it. There are people who depend on Medicare to survive.”
Fifty-one percent of seniors did not have health care insurance before the advent of Medicare during the 1960s, Guild said. Before Medicare, 30 percent of seniors lived in poverty, a rate that is now 7.5 percent, Guild said.
“Medicare has done a great deal to help people in their golden years to live a dignified life, be able to survive and be able to avoid bankruptcy because of an inability to purchase private health care insurance,” he said.
Guild said it’s wishful thinking that private charities and churches would be able to take up the slack of losing Medicare and Social Security.
“The truth is if they had been taking care of all the people who needed Social Security, we would have never had the program,” Guild said. “If private charities had been taking care of health care costs and expenses for seniors, we would have never needed Medicare.”
TO LEARN MORE about Tom Guild’s campaign for the Congressional 5th District of Oklahoma, visit his Web site at www.guildforcongress.com.