TULSA - Cathy Costello’s decision to run for the office once held by her late husband was not taken lightly, and she’s had two years to carefully consider how she’d approach the office and what her priorities will be if elected, she told KRMG Wednesday.
After holding press conferences in Oklahoma City and Tulsa to announce her campaign, she came to the KRMG studios to sit down for an extensive interview explaining her decision.
I will try to move the state forward, I will try to move the Department of Labor forward. I owe that to my Oklahoma neighbors who have come to my aid through my tragedy -- Cathy Costello, candidate for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner
“My desire to serve in this capacity has been on my heart since just weeks - days, really - after my husband died,” Costello said.
Mark Costello was murdered in the parking lot of an Oklahoma City restaurant by the couple’s mentally ill son, Christian, in August of 2015.
She has turned that tragedy into a calling, traveling the country to speak on issues related to mental health and the lack of help for those affected.
“I began to lead the state, and the nation, in discussing mental health reform,” she noted. “Educating, advocating, I have spoken all over the United States... mental illness is not a red issue or a blue issue, it’s a red white and blue issue. It is an issue that affects every Oklahoman in one way or another.”
She says the Oklahoma Labor Commission is well-suited to tackle the problem, because it’s also an issue for employees and business owners alike.
“In the state of Oklahoma, the percent of unemployment for those people suffering with mental illness is 80%,” she said.
“Here’s another shocking statistic. Of employers who have employees who suffer with mental health and substance abuse issues, the cost to (Oklahoma) employers yearly is $600 million in additional medical costs.”
She’s careful to add that she doesn’t want anyone to vote for her based on the tragedy that befell her family.
“I would not want anyone to ever vote for me because of the tragedy of my past,” she said. “I want people to vote for me because of my vision for the future.”