OKLAHOMA – Teachers taking action: More than 30 educators from around the state filed into the state capitol Wednesday to turn in their application packets to run for office.
Melissa Tilley was there doing something she never thought she would.
“I just stepped out and did it,” Tilley said.
She’s running for State House Representative District 50.
“Politics is not really my passion. Kids are my passion, and I love them. And, when I saw that they are in trouble, I want to help,” Tilley said.
She said the current state of education in Oklahoma compelled her to do something.
That’s also what’s driving Mickey Dollens.
He’s one of 208 teachers in Oklahoma City impacted by statewide budget cuts.
“I was laid off from my job at US Grant, and I’m running now to ensure that my students who become teachers will never have to go through what we have to go through,” Dollens said.
From layoffs, low pay, to overcrowded classrooms, the educators said enough is enough.
Diana Phillips teaches in higher education and said teachers should have the freedom to focus on their jobs.
“When we start out with several 1,000 teachers jobs not filled, and now we are looking at cutting even more teachers, nobody is going to win at that,” Phillips said.
State officials are expecting bigger cuts next year.
“There is no reason why elected officials should go unchallenged every year. We have to give people in charge a run for their money, because their job is to serve the people not themselves or large corporations,” Dollens said.
That’s just what Tilley said she plans to do, even if it means getting out of her comfort zone.
“I am very nervous. It’s not really my scene. It’s something new, but I want to do it. I want to make a difference,” she said.
Election board officials said 254 people filed to run for office today.
The last day to file is Friday at 5 p.m.