Editor’s note: Candidates for state and national offices on the ballot for the August 28 runoff election were invited to respond to questions for profiles in The Ardmoreite. Those who chose to respond will be featured alongside their ballot opponent. For those that did not participate, basic information will be provided.
My name is Leslie Osborn; I live in Mustang, Oklahoma, and am the mother of two grown children. I went to OSU and received a degree in business administration. For 22 years I owned and operated my own business, Osborn Pick-Up Accessories, I sold the business six years ago. Ten years ago I ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives and have represented Tuttle and Mustang for the last decade. During my time there I was the first female to chair the Judiciary committee, and the first Republican female to chair the House appropriations and budget committee.
During my time in the legislature I have run several bills for the Department of Labor, one creating a new division to oversee compressed natural gas vehicle conversions. When the current Labor Commissioner, Melissa Houston, decided not to run for the office I was approached about running to succeed her. It is a well-run agency of 80 employees, with an $8 million dollar budget. The mission is safety of the workforce across the state, as well as licensure reform and workforce development. All of these are areas I have worked on in my time serving in the legislature, and areas I feel passionately about. We must partner the Department of Labor with the Career Tech System and Common Education to better collaborate on directing our children to good careers in available jobs in our state. I have already spoken with both of those directors on this needed initiative.
Why are you running for this office?
Providing the core services our citizens expect and deserve, in the most cost effective and efficient manner. We must continue performance audits and the most effective ways to administer services, including public-private partnerships and streamlining. 2. Revenue - cost vs. return. Currently we are 48th in the nation in overall tax burden. We must continue to keep our taxes low, but collect enough revenue to provide a stellar education for our children, have a good system of infrastructure for our citizens and industries, and improve the funding for mental health services, where every pro-active dollar spent saves ten dollars and a life down the road. Those are big issues and we must elect a strong Governor to direct these initiatives.
What do you think are the top three challenges facing our state?
Continuing to diversify the economy. For too long we have been overly dependent on the oil industry, the work to add new manufacturing and business to our state must continue.
Continue the highly effective Safety Pays Program offering free consulting services to businesses across the state in ensuring the safety of their workforce. 2. Ensure the agency is performing audits and doing everything to ensure efficiency and high performance with taxpayer dollars. 3. Continue yearly inspections that keep our citizens safe, from boilers to elevators to amusement park rides. 4. Continue the work that Commissioner Houston started with licensure reform. A database has been formed of all licenses in the state, now working with each individual industry to see which licenses are an impediment to work and which are necessary for safety of our citizens. 5. Workforce development has been tasked by executive order to the Department of Labor. We must work with businesses across the state to see what their labor needs are. The above mentioned collaboration with career tech and common education can fulfill that need.
When faced with a specific situation that puts your personal viewpoint at odds with a great many of your constituents, what decision do you make and why?
During my 10 years in the legislature there were times that some constituents were unhappy with legislation I voted on, there is truly no way to make everyone happy. My goal was always to do what was best for my district and for the state as a whole. As Labor Commissioner that would be the same, to look at the core mission of the agency, which is safety of citizens and safety of workforce. Ensuring those things would not always be easy or popular, but it is the right thing to do.