Dewayne Pemberton, a former educator, serves as state senator for District 9, which includes much of Cherokee County. He shared with us some of his priorities and achievements.
1. What do you see as the most important accomplishment the Legislature made during the recent session?
I think the most important accomplishment the Legislature made during the recent session was twofold: (a) Allocating over $400 million new dollars to state agencies, especially $209 million for education, and (b) Saving an additional $200 million of new revenue, giving the state $1.1 billion in surplus or rainy day funds for future downturns in the economy.
2. What do you consider your biggest priority for the 2020 session?
My biggest priority for 2020 is to maintain our commitment to common and higher education, both financially and policy-wise. This will ensure a strong future for the state by providing an educated workforce designed to meet the needs of a ever-growing technological society and draw new businesses and industry to the state.
3. What are your biggest personal strengths that you bring to the table?
My biggest strength is "common sense" and the ability to build trusted relationships with my fellow legislators that forge strong alliances to get tasks accomplished and good legislation passed.
4. Do you feel the Senate districts are fairly allocated in terms of your constituents, and why or why not?
District 9 is a large, sprawling area that runs from Taft in the west to Park Hill in the east, encompassing all of Muskogee and Tahlequah. I feel that given the topography, vast scarcely populated areas and boundaries of the district, it is about as fairly set up as it could be.
5. As far as Cherokee County is concerned, what do you see as our biggest need that the state can help with?
The biggest need for Cherokee County, from a state perspective, is to provide a consistent and even-keel state budget from year to year that adequately funds core services, education, roads and bridges, county government, etc. This will maintain economic growth and jobs. and stop the yo-yo effect of state funding from years past as a result of funding shortfalls.
– Kim Poindexter