Brett Deering | Special to The Sun Lt. Gov. Jari Askins speaks during the opening ceremony for the Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO at its headquarters Wednesday in Bricktown.

Lt. Governor Jari Askins said she did not wait for times to get rosy in Oklahoma before entering the 2010 gubernatorial race.

“I’m saying I expect them to be tough,” Askins said. “I think a leader capable of making tough decisions is going to be required and I think I’m that person.”

Askins is one of four announced candidates running for governor. Attorney General Drew Edmondson is the only other Democrat vying for the state’s top post. State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Edmond, are in the race.

Askins said she is aware of the impact the national economy has on Oklahoma. The next governor will take office during a time of budgetary challenges, she added. So the next governor’s ability to lead the state is going to require a broad range of experience, she said.

“The opportunities that I have had in my background — to see how government is supposed to function from different perspectives — not just the tunnel vision of the legislature, but having the judicial experience, having executive branch experience, I think lets me understand that no one person or no one group will have the solutions.”

Askins said she has the ability to unite people with differing perspectives to move Oklahoma forward faster and stronger.

Oklahomans as a general rule are an optimistic people, she said. Oklahomans can cinch up their belts and do what’s needed to care for their families and weather the financial recession, Askins said.

“The challenge that we have as government leaders is how to use those dollars to take care of the people that are not capable of taking care of themselves, our children and aged population,” she said. “I think those are the problems that you will see us try to take care of.”

Askins, 56, said many people of her generation may have thought their education was complete after high school or college. But they learned to adapt by being witness to the use of sophisticated communication technology, she said. Education never stops, Askins said, and Oklahoma’s children must be prepared to be life-long learners.

“The next generation of students are going to have to adapt to a technology far beyond what we can envision right now,” Askins said. “There are great chances to prove to our young people that they don’t have to go to another state to earn a living, that we can have good, high-paying jobs for them here in Oklahoma. When we do that, then we keep our best and brightest in the state, and we keep Oklahoma as a place to come for a family to build a future.”

Askins said she has worked to increase the state’s educational focus on science technology, engineering and math without eliminating the arts and creativity.

“Understanding that creativity drives innovation. It is absolutely critical to help us as adults to understand that creativity comes in many different forms,” Askins said. “It could be music, it could be art, it could be dance. It could be the ability that we have in industry and the state of Oklahoma.” | 341-2121, ext. 114

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