By Rep. Mike Sanders
As I come to the end of my tenure in the state Legislature, I’m not saying goodbye, but rather see you later.
Even though term limits restrict me to 12 years in this office that does not mean I will stop serving the needs of people in House District 59 or in our great state of Oklahoma.
Serving as a state representative for my home district has been the pinnacle of my public service career – something I wanted to do since I was a boy. I can look back over legislation I fought for over the past 12 years and be proud of the work I was able to accomplish that leaves our district in a better position that when I first ran for office in 2008.
One of the most visible signs of success are the orange traffic cones and road construction signs throughout our House district. While these may prove a temporary inconvenience for drivers, they mean safer roads for our citizens and ease of commerce to boost our local economies. That is a win for our district and something I fought for my entire legislative career.
I also can point to legislation that makes our roads safer from drunk drivers. I was able to pass legislation several years ago that makes sure drunk driving offenders are tried in a court of record to limit repeat offenses. This saves lives.
Thanks to the work I was able to do with Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma, students struggling to read will now be recognized and screened earlier for dyslexia. The resulting support and interventions will change the lives of these students and lead to their academic success.
This year, I was finally able to secure passage of the first bill I ever filed – a tax exemption for the American Legion. This group that does so much to serve our veterans and their families will now get some tax relief.
Rural fire departments also now have an opportunity to see more volunteers thanks to legislation that allows those over 45 to sign up without being added to the state’s pension plan.
I’ve also worked to strengthen penalties for sex offenders, to give victims a greater say in the trials of their predators and to protect the state’s children. These are just a few examples of legislation I was able to pass during my time at the state House.
Of course, I could never have done this job without the support of my lovely wife, Nellie, and our two sons, Davis and Walker, otherwise known as my chief of staff and my chief policy advisor.
And I could never have done this without the support of my constituents. A wise lawmaker told me on my first day in office that I would make friends with the 100 other members of the House of Representatives. I would learn to respect the governor, and I might even make a few friends on the Senate side of the Capitol, but to always remember that not one of those people voted for me. Ultimately, I did not owe them my vote on legislation if it would hurt my constituents back home. That advice and my faith have guided me every day I’ve been in office. My beliefs and convictions will continue to guide me as I make my next transition.
Thank you to everyone in House District 59 for your trust over the last 12 years. Thank you for your ideas and suggestions of how we could make our district and Oklahoma a better place to live and raise our families and do business together. Thank you for your prayers and support. I will always treasure my time spent in service to you. Thank you also to the newspaper editors in our district who ran this column so faithfully every week of my service. You allowed the people a window into the lawmaking process, providing your own public service.
I wish our new Rep. Mike Dobrinski my very best. He will serve House District 59 very well.
God bless each of you! And remember – this is not farewell. It’s see you later!