Tulsa Leaders’ Essays: Ronda Vuillemont-Smith

One man can make a difference.

2015 brought us victories and defeats as well as the loss of a great servant to the state of Oklahoma, when Labor Commissioner Mark Costello was tragically killed in August by his mentally ill son. Mark Costello was a man of integrity, brilliant and passionate for conservative principles; a champion of grassroots activists. He boldly fought for school choice, fiscal responsibility, consolidation and reform in government and was instrumental in the defeat of Common Core.

A subject near and dear to Mark was the subject of mental illness and the reforms necessary of how we as a state treat people with mental illnesses. Costello told advocates of mental health at an April gathering at the state Capitol that “we must be understanding and understand that society cannot ignore this problem, and if it does so, it does so at its peril.” 116 days later, Costello’s words rang true.

Mark Costello loved God, his family, his state and his job. He was taken from us too soon but not before leaving his mark on us. His character and integrity inspire us to be better people and citizens of Oklahoma. I’m a better person having known him.

This one man made a difference in our state. Let the legacy of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello be your inspiration to make a difference this year. Get involved – we have a lot to accomplish in 2016.