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Cathy Costello announces plans to run for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner

Heide Brandes / Red Dirt Report
Cathy Costello officially announces her run for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner as she is flanked by her son Ian.
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OKLAHOMA CITY- Cathy Costello, widow of former Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, officially announced her intention to run for her deceased husband’s position Wednesday, saying she would focus on job creation, workplace safety and mental health advocacy in the workplace.

“Leadership, entrepreneurship, knowledge - these are traits that a labor commissioner must have,” Costello said. “These are the strengths that I will bring to the Department of Labor. Today, I am formally announcing my candidacy for Oklahoma State Labor Commissioner.”

Mark Costello was stabbed to death by his son Christian in August 2015. The family said that Christian had suffered from mental illness for much of his life. Labor Commissioner Melissa Houston was appointed Labor Commissioner after Mark Costello's death but has indicated she will not run in the 2018 election. State Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, has indicated that she will be a candidate for the position.

In the press conference Wednesday, Costello said her experience as an entrepreneur and her knowledge of the Labor Commission through her husband’s term gives her the understanding that others may lack.

In addition, she said, she has spent the last two years in education and advocacy for mental health reform.

“I was instrumental in passing the Labor Commissioner Mark Costello AOT Bill and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act in Washington, D.C. I will have the honor and privilege of speaking to the New Jersey Legislature in October.”

Costello said she started her own business before meeting her husband but also launched eight businesses with her husband in six different industries around the world.

“My years of entrepreneurial expertise provides me with a broad understanding of the needs of employees, their families and the small business owner,” she said.

Costello said she would focus on job creation if elected. She said she would work for a joint partnership between the Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce to create job promotion.

“I will advocate for jobs, job opportunities and job security and for reducing the over-reaching governmental regulations that destroy jobs,” she said. “But the Labor Commissioner should not just be concerned with the workforce of today; the Labor Commissioner should be cultivating the workforce of tomorrow.”

In addition to promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education, Costello said she would also push for workplace safety through the OSHA Safety Pays program.

“Mental health in the workplace - The state of Oklahoma has 3,974,000 souls. One in four Oklahomans suffer from a mental illness,” she said. “Mental health issues are the leading cause of work performance loss; it is the second leading cause of absenteeism and it accounts for 30 percent of disability costs.”

Costello said she would spearhead a labor department task force to study the impact of mental health on workplace productivity called the Costello Commission on Mental Health in the Workplace.

“I have a very passionate and personal interest in this platform,” she said. “Commissioner Mark Costello and I watched our son struggle due to his mental health issues. That same mental health issue took the predominate wage earner in my home. It is time that the Department of Labor examines, recognizes and addresses the impact of mental health on the wage earner and the employer.”

Costello said she didn’t want citizens to vote for her out of sympathy, but instead for her vision for the future.

“I’m not a politician. I’m not interested in name recognition. I have been given two gifts. I have been given life and I have been given time,” she said. “With my knowledge of the labor department and my five-year prep course I had under Mark Costello, I have the opportunity to improve the lives of people in Oklahoma.”


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Heide Brandes

Heide Brandes is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 18 years of experience....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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