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Oklahoma disability groups to hold candidates’ forum

Darla Shelden Story by on July 12, 2016 . Click on author name to view all articles by this author. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
DRS Legislative Liaison Kevin Nelson (standing) welcomes guests and candidates to the 2014 forum. Photo provided.

DRS Legislative Liaison Kevin Nelson (standing) welcomes guests and candidates to the 2014 forum. Photo provided.

By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter

On Saturday, July 23 central Oklahoma residents with disabilities, their family members and friends will gather to hear the views of at least 15 candidates running for the State Legislature.  The event will take place at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Each year, area invested organizations join together to give citizens with disabilities a chance to learn about the candidates’ priorities and to hear where they stand on issues affecting the lives of people with disabilities.

Organizers hope the event will also help to educate future office-holders on some of the major concerns shared by area residents with disabilities.

Sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, materials in Braille and large print, and other resources will be implemented to make candidate speeches and information accessible to individuals with hearing loss, blindness or other disabilities.D

Almost one in six, or 15.6 percent of Oklahomans, have disabilities. Over 583,194 Oklahoma residents statewide, and 171,094 in the greater Oklahoma City metro area, have disabilities, not counting those who live in nursing homes.

The Heartland Council of the Blind is an advocacy group that works on behalf of advocate for those who are blind and visually impaired.

“Most Oklahoma families are touched by disability in one way or another,” said Vicky Golightly, spokesperson for central Oklahoma’s Heartland Council of the Blind.  “As Oklahomans we share many of the same goals and concerns.  However, individuals with disabilities face unique barriers to full participation in the life of our state and communities.

“The State Legislature can create opportunities for us to contribute to the economic health of our state – as workers, taxpayers and customers,” Golightly added.  “We hope this event will help future leaders understand the potential of Oklahomans with disabilities.”

Organizers of the Candidates’ Forum are the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, Heartland Council of the Blind, Oklahoma Council of the Blind, Oklahoma Rehabilitation Association, Statewide Independent Living Council, Sight-Hearing Encouragement Program, and Oklahoma Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Primary runoff elections for legislative candidates will be held Tuesday, August 23, with the general election on November 8.  County election boards must receive voter registration applications more than 24 days prior to an election in order for the applicant to vote in that election.  Registration deadline for the November general election is October 14.

“You can download a voter registration application from the State Election Board website,” said Renee Sansom, Program Manager for the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council. “Information on polling places, early voting and how to vote by absentee ballot is also available at the site.  Thanks to Senate Bill 313 enacted in 2015, online voter registration will be coming to Oklahoma in the future.”

Organizers said that invitations to speak at the Forum were sent to all candidates in legislative districts in the greater Oklahoma City area.

The following candidates have confirmed to attend as of July 12:

Senate District 47
Judy Mullen Hopper, D
Greg Treat, R (incumbent)

House District 100
Donald Wentroth, D
Elise Hall, R (incumbent)

House District 99
George Young, D (incumbent)

House District 85
Cyndi Munson, D (incumbent)

House District 84
Will Hollander, D
Tammy West, R

House District 87
Collin Walke, D

House District 43
Mile Bounds, D

House District 60
Dennis Purifoy, D

House District 81
Dan Myers, D

House District 92
Forrest Bennett, D

House District 39
Clark Duffy, L

House District 54
Mary Newcome-Hatch, D

The Candidates’ Forum is free and open to the public. For more information about the event contact Vicky Golightly at 405-740-6227 and vgolight@yahoo.com, or Renee Sansom at 405-951-3579 or Renee.Sansom@okstate.edu.

The audience listens as candidates present their priorities in the 2014 Candidates Forum focused on disability issues. Seated in foreground are Tim Parrish and Hailey Mathis. Photo provided.

The audience listens as candidates present their priorities in the 2014 Candidates Forum focused on disability issues. Seated in foreground are Tim Parrish and Hailey Mathis. Photo provided.

COM-DRSCandidateForum-Photo3

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