I grew up in Ponca City to a family that attended church regularly – three times a week regular. I don’t recall a single time where my mother cursed. In fact, she would only say “hell” if it were in a Bible scripture she was reading. As with most moms, her no meant no, but that didn’t mean I didn’t push it. I always knew when I pushed too far and her “no” became “hell no” – even without her saying it. I have reached that point myself with our state’s handling of the pandemic.

House District 34, which I represent, is the heart of Stillwater and home to Oklahoma State University, Stillwater Public Schools, and Stillwater Medical Center. Not only are these three entities the top three employers of Stillwater residents, but they also serve a majority of our population. Senate Bill 658 negatively affects all three, thus affecting Stillwater much more significantly than any other Oklahoma municipality.

I ran for office because I love my community and my state. I take my job seriously and work to be a voice of reason in a state government with a right-leaning supermajority. I have been extremely vocal on the issues of how we, as a state, are handling the pandemic. Passing SB658 has plunged our community into chaos and has left us exposed to the virus in a manner that threatens our homes, work and school.

Having had numerous conversations with constituents: parents, teachers, business owners, health officials alike, I am even more resolved to the need for the governor to declare a health emergency. I wrote him a letter recently expressing our unique position and asking him to intercede. If a health emergency were enacted, the National Guard could be deployed to help with hospital staffing, expanding bed space, testing, and vaccination. A health emergency would also cancel out SB658, which would allow SPS and OSU to require masking.

Our students deserve an uninterrupted school year. Parents deserve the peace of mind knowing their child(ren) is engaged in a safe learning environment. Teachers and staff deserve a safe workplace. Our healthcare heroes at Stillwater Medical deserve a community that is working with them, not against them. The four populations comprise the bulk of Stillwater residents. We all will benefit from the governor finally taking action.

I hope to hear back from Governor Stitt in the next coming days. If I don’t, I will keep speaking up. When it comes to the question “Am I okay with our younger generations suffering from the state’s lack of action?”, my answer is “Hell no.”

Trish Ranson represents Stillwater in District 34 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding District 34, email trish.ranson@okhouse.gov or call 405-557-7411.

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