Guest Post written and submitted by Mary Pryor –
Throw political opinions to the wind for just a moment.
Imagine a young woman from Tecumseh, Oklahoma watching her father run for Mayor of the small town and becoming a leader in the community.
Then imagine her father dying unexpectedly and watching her mother step into that same political role.
That’s what happened to Mary Fallin, before she stepped into the political arena herself.
One must take into consideration that above all else, politicians are public servants that do not have to run at all. Yet, those that take on the roles in which they do are usually out to create change in the best way they possibly can- despite the criticism and pressure placed upon them.
Political differences aside, Fallin has indeed made history in becoming the very first female Governor of the state of Oklahoma. That’s nothing to scoff at.
Born to Joseph Newton and Mary Jo Copeland in 1954 in Warrensburg, Missouri, the family found themselves moving shortly thereafter to Tecumseh, Oklahoma, where Fallin grew up and graduated from high school.
She then went on to attend Oklahoma Baptist College in Shawnee and then Oklahoma State University graduating with a Bachelor in Human Environmental Sciences. She went on to Oklahoma City University where she worked for two years obtaining her Master’s in Business.
It was while working in Oklahoma City as the District Manager for a hotel chain when she realized that she was starting to care about the issues going on around her, “I was in my thirties and I found myself becoming frustrated with issues at the state level,” Fallin stated.
It prompted her to run for state legislature as a young mother in 1990.
That was 25 years ago and Fallin took some heat back then about being a working mother. “I had a three year old and a one month old, but I wanted to make a difference,” she said.
Paving the way and breaking through barriers as a female politician, she became the very first Lieutenant Governor and was the second woman to go to Congress in 2006 from the Sooner state.
Pretty incredible considering that the last woman in which to do so was Alice Mary Robertson in 1921.
Fallin has overcome obstacles and still continues laying down the path for other women to follow in her footsteps.
“It’s a lot of work balancing my family and navigating through, but I manage to do it,” Fallin said. “I credit that to the fact that my mother was brave enough to accept the role of Mayor during a really difficult time in her life, after losing my dad. I realized then how strong she was and how that has encouraged me within my own life,” Fallin stated.
For the record, her favorite female politician next to her mother was Margaret Thatcher.
We of course could not escape some political figures, the fact that unemployment was at 7% when she took office, which is now down to 4.4%.
The state is sitting on a half billion dollars in savings.
Taxes are low and she believes the oil industry will get through this rough patch.
Professionally she is most proud of helping to make lives better and working on building a stronger economy.
She has been aggressive in helping Oklahoma become more business friendly.
When life becomes hectic and she needs a peaceful retreat, she heads to her home on Grand Lake.
She is a fan of the Duck Creek Fireworks, the largest fireworks display in the state, each Independence Day.
She is also a fan of boating the waters of Grand, recently trading in her Cobalt boat for something that will allow more family members to get on board, “We just recently purchased a pontoon boat that we hope to enjoy this summer. Wade and I have six children between the two of us and we needed more room,” she laughed.
Coming to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Fallin delights in spending time on the lake taking in the calmness of the water and the beautiful scenery, “I love the cliffs, bluffs, sunsets and the Pensacola Dam,” Fallin stated. “It’s just such a wonderful lake; we enjoy our time there immensely.”
She also takes interest in the antique stores around Northeast Oklahoma and other small businesses in the area which she feels is important to show her patronage.
Fallin feels fortunate to govern a state full of the friendliest people she has run across, “I love the people in our state. They are so giving and willing to help each other. Our people always come together.”
She enjoys representing the people of Oklahoma and always tries to look her best. She credits her sense of style to her grandmother, “She was always dressed up with her nails polished, make up on and hair done,” Fallin said fondly. “Though I admit that when I’m at home or run to Wal-Mart I am usually just dressed in jogging pants or jeans, which can really throw people off,” she laughed.
She’s a huge country music fan and admits to having had fun at the Garth Brooks concert in Tulsa. She also enjoys other Oklahoma musicians such as Blake Shelton, Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood. “Oklahoma is filled with so many talented musicians, we are so lucky for that,” she said.
If you take politics out of the equation, if you set aside the fact that she is making history by serving her now second term as the first female Governor of Oklahoma – Mary Fallin is a proud wife and mother who takes pride in her state and the people in it.
She helps promote tourism to the state as often as she can and has a can-do attitude that she inherited from her parents.
Maybe her favorite quote best sums up her line of thinking and who she is as a person, “If you continue to think the way you’ve always thought, you will continue to get what you always got.” Fallin continues on as a pioneer and is aware of her responsibility as a strong woman in the political arena.