HD 84

(Editor’s note: Earlier this month, NonDoc emailed questions to more than two-dozen candidates running for various offices. More than half of those sent questions did not respond by the Oct. 20 deadline. The appearance on our site of a candidate’s responses, which have been lightly edited for style and grammar, in no way represents an endorsement from NonDoc.)

Will Hollander and Tammy West currently oppose each other to represent Oklahoma’s House District 84 in northwest Oklahoma City and Bethany. Below, Hollander responds to general and specific questions regarding his candidacy. Hollander’s opponent did not respond to similar questions, or else her answers would be included here as well.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for office because as a parent of two children, I could no longer sit idly by and watch as our state continued to decline without doing everything in my power to help bring about positive change. I am proud to have grown up here in Oklahoma and want a better home for my children and all children.

Currently, there are many in the Legislature that base their decisions on what special interests tell them. They are out of touch with the people and are refusing to do their job to solve our most pressing problems. It is well beyond time to turn this around and get our state in a better place.

What have you done in the last 10 years that most qualifies you to hold this office?

I am currently a small-business owner, husband and father of two children in public schools. Prior to starting my home business, I was a manager for a large and successful dental practice in the area with over 100 employees who depended on me every day to make decisions that would positively impact their livelihoods, the patients and the practice. Also, I am involved and invested in the community. I currently produce our neighborhood newsletter and have been treasurer for the local PTO [parent teacher organization].

Oklahoma’s education funding has been a topic most relevant this election year. Are you voting for or against State Question 779 on Nov. 8?

There are currently no other alternatives to give our teachers a much-deserved raise. Our teachers are leaving daily to seek better opportunities or retiring early. Sadly, I don’t trust the Legislature to take any action on this issue. I am voting yes for SQ 779.

Aside from education, what topic are you most passionate about?

A couple of topics I am passionate about are mental health and criminal justice reform. There is a terrible stigma attached to mental health issues and diseases. As budget cuts continue, many Oklahomans who struggle with mental health problems end up in jail and do not receive the proper care they need.

What is one piece of legislation you are considering filing next year?

Drinking and driving prevention for new licenses. Last year, there were over 3,500 alcohol-related crashes in which 161 deaths occurred. I recently was a guest at a victim’s impact panel where volunteers share their stories of how they had lost loved ones or had their lives changed because of drinking and driving. One story that moved me involves a 22-month-old little girl; her mother and father lost their lives due to a drunk driver.

The others in attendance were required to be there because of a DUI. At the start of the program they were angry and resentful for having to be there. At the end of the program, after hearing these personal stories, it made a powerful difference in their decision to not drink and drive again. I would like to see a victims’ impact panel incorporated into the program for people seeking to obtain a driver’s license.

Rep. Sally Kern (R-OKC) currently occupies the HD 84 seat. Kern is known for being openly anti-homosexual and called an embracing of homosexuality the “death knell of this country” in 2008. More recently, she introduced three bills in 2015 that would allow for discrimination on the basis of sexual identity and gender identity. How do your views about homosexuality align or differ from Kern’s?

My political views are galaxies apart from Rep. Kern’s. I believe in equal rights, dignity and respect for every person regardless of race, religion, gender, age and sexual orientation (LGBTQ). Government-sanctioned discrimination based on religious convictions are harmful to Oklahoma. I do not support any legislation that would create an avenue for discrimination.