Claremore was a campaign stop for Lt. Governor Todd Lamb as he tours the state in his race for the governor seat.
When it came time to announce his intention to run for re-election in 2014, Lamb chose Claremore as the venue to make the announcement. Once again, Lamb said he's making Claremore a priority.
He spent the day in Claremore Monday, visiting Catalayah Elementary School and Baker Hughes before hosting a town hall meeting at the Claremore Conference Center.
Lamb was born and raised in Enid and is a self-proclaimed "rural man."
Watching his parents serve in various community roles inspired him into a service career, he said.
"Most people know about my policy background and political background," he said. "But I also have a background in law enforcement, with secret service."
In his town hall meeting, Lamb told the story his first secret service assignment. He was sent to Guatemala, he said, and told to report back with the numbers of protestors and media before the president arrived.
"They had sticks, they had bats, but I got concerned when they burned the American flag…So I called for backup from the state police in Guatemala. When their squad cars pulled up, these protestors took off running to them. They started hitting these cars with their sticks and bats–and the squad cars just took off," he said. "So we were left, as American agents on foreign soil."
Lamb said valuable lessons were learned from that Guatamala protest.
"I learned to stand firm in the face of adversity. And in the secret service it was engrained in us to have a plan and a back up plan," he said. "And here's my point, Oklahoma is suffering because of a lack of a plan."
Lamb quoted Proverbs 29 in saying, "Where there is no vision, people will scatter."
"And we're literally seeing that in Oklahoma," he said.
Lamb said his mission is to renew Oklahoma:
When it comes to reforming government, Lamb said he wants to focus first on changing the budget process—"We should have a one month policy session, then three months of budget."
When it comes to education, he said, "maintaining the status quo is unacceptable."
He said he wants to "put parents back in control, get more money directly into classroom instruction and maintain a focus on improving academic rigor and achievement."
For economic growth, Oklahoma must diversify, he said, "so we are no longer at the mercy of fluctuations in the world's commodity markets."
Lamb said he wants Oklahoma to be the model in all of these areas.
"I want Texas to look north and say, 'how did Oklahoma do that?' I want Kansas to look south and say 'how did Oklahoma do that?'"
"If Oklahoma was a business, the board of directors would want to fire somebody right now and the shareholders would be livid at the product they're receiving considering the investment they're making," he said.
He told them "it's harder to get closer to the action and further removed from policy than being lieutenant governor of Oklahoma."
As lieutenant governor he said he sees the problems up close, so as governor he wants to be "a change agent."
From the group, Lamb took a question on the proposed combining of the state's tourism and commerce departments.
"My concern is that if tourism and commerce were to merge…is that tourism would slowly fade away. Commerce will be focused on what they should be focused on–economic development, job creation and organic growth. And tourism will become an afterthought," he said.
Subject matter experts in commerce, he said, aren't necessarily subject matter experts in tourism— and vice versa.
He said he would rather see the two remain separate, autonomous.
In regards to the upcoming special session, Lamb said, "A special session should only be called once a plan is developed."
Special sessions are expensive, he said, so things should be worked out prior to session.
"And a special session should be for a singular purpose," he said.
Lamb said he wants better for the state and he thinks Oklahomans are ready to participate in changing the course.
"It's time we have the state our people deserve," he said. "We've been held back for too long."