Oklahoma voters will select a new governor in November. One of the Democratic candidates came to Luther February 23 for a morning coffee campaign event hosted by Mark and Mary Butenhof at the 116 Farmstead, Market & Table on Main Street. The event to meet Drew Edmondson brought together members of the community from all walks of life and politics. Members of the school board, town leadership, local business owners and other neighbors attended. Who knows? Luther might become a must-stop for all candidates this election year.
“From all of my conversations, it sounds like exciting things are happening in Luther; we’re growing and booming,” said Edmondson, 71, as he began a 15-minute speech outlining his stances on the issues from education to prison overcrowding and the gross production tax on oil and gas (click for the candidate’s website as you do your research). “This is a wonderful facility. It’s an example of what else is happening here and bless you for your hard work. Thank for all you do to make this a great town in a great state,” he said.
Drew Edmondson served as Oklahoma’s Attorney General from 1995-2011 and served in the State Legislature in the 1970s. The former county prosecutor and Vietnam Veteran said he is a reluctant candidate but he and his wife, Linda, weren’t satisfied with the roster of candidates looking to lead the state as the next Governor.
“I had hoped there would be someone else running this year with statewide name recognition or able to self-fund who is able to talk about the things needed to be done in Oklahoma. I didn’t see that candidate,” he said.
With coffee stops in Luther, plus civic group events and other stops across the state, Edmondson is hitting the campaign trail daily. He has one announced candidate, Connie Johnson, on the Democratic side for the June primary.
During questions and answers around the common table at Luther’s 116 cafe, Edmondson was asked why he thinks there is so much partisan bickering in the State Legislature.
Edmondson answered with a story of how his colleagues in the Oklahoma Legislature, on both sides of the political aisle, would spend time together outside of the Capitol at 23rd and Lincoln. He said many stayed at the same place during the week and would meet up in a “cheese room” that was stocked by unidentified lobbyists with cheese, crackers and beer.
“These kinds of collegial discussions don’t just happen anymore. We are so polarized and say mean things about each other in public,” he said adding that if elected, he’d bring the hangouts back. “I propose the Governor’s home as a gathering place for Democrats and Republicans to talk to each other. That wasn’t unheard of in the old days.
“Personal contact alters opinion. It’s hard to think someone is the devil when you’re sitting down having a beer with them,” said Edmondson.
Whether you support this candidate or want to bring yours to Luther, the event was refreshing to have neighbors share coffee and opinions, even if they differed. It was a bit like our own “cheese room.”