Looking at both sides of the issues

by Jessica Garvin

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the inauguration of President Joseph Harroz Jr., the 15th president of the University of Oklahoma. Being an OU alumna, this event was especially memorable for me and one I’ve been anticipating for several weeks. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the pomp and pageantry of it all was something I know I’ll never forget.

On Thursday evening, Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham spoke to dinner guests about the importance of education and how he felt the main purpose of a public university is to teach students to seek understanding in every area: science and innovation, math, journalism, literature, and even in politics. He added that until individuals on both sides of issues set aside their own personal agendas and beliefs and seek a deeper understanding of the opposition, our democracy stands to fail.

So often, we have preconceived notions regarding tough social issues, such as the death penalty, abortion, welfare programs, vaccine mandates and education. Because of our own fundamental beliefs, we put on blinders, and we don’t seek to understand the “why” behind the opposition. Meacham’s speech challenged me to remember when these issues arise, to ask myself if people on the other side of the issue from me have personal experiences that have led them to their position. I believe my upbringing has led me to have conservative values: pro-life, fiscally conservative, and personal freedom regarding vaccines, just to name a few. That said, I have very close friends who grew up differently and they have completely conflicting views about these issues. However, we’re still very close friends.

I believe that because of my friendships with people who think differently than me, I’m able to consider all angles when making policy decisions. Does that mean compromising my conservative values or voting against my fundamental beliefs? Absolutely not. But it’s extremely important to me that I know both sides of an argument, the pros and cons, and how it impacts all 80,000+ people who live in Senate District 43.  

In addition to the inauguration, I attended several other events in the district this week, including Pauls Valley’s Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon and Purcell’s Rotary Club weekly lunch meeting. At both events, there were individuals who didn’t agree with me on every policy. However, the debate remained calm and professional; and each time, we listened with open hearts, ears, and minds. This week, I had a Republican and a Democrat, who didn’t agree with me on issues, end our conversations by calling me “reasonable”.  I cannot think of a better compliment from people who don’t agree with me.

I’ve recently become involved with a technology organization in Oklahoma and look forward to learning more about this area of science and innovation to create public policy to enhance resources for Oklahoma businesses. This exploration began last week when I met with OCAST (Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology), a state agency created in 1987, whose statutory purpose is to “expand and diversify Oklahoma’s economy and provide higher quality jobs by encouraging the development of new products, processes and industry in Oklahoma”. I believe this is an area where we can invest to bring more private businesses into our state.

In closing, I was honored to get to welcome hundreds of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) students from across southern Oklahoma to a youth leadership conference where they learned to “Rise, Strive and Thrive Together”. This is an Oklahoma CareerTech program that focuses on personal and professional growth through Family and Consumer Sciences Education. I’d like to give a special and huge “thank you” to the Tilley Group and Hope Construction for providing lunch to all of the incredible students and staff who attended the conference. I couldn’t be more thankful to these two Duncan businesses for their partnership and selfless service to the community and our schools.

If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. Please write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5522.

United for Oklahoma - September
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