February 5, 2012
The Tulsa World
By WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
As she begins her second year in office, Gov. Mary Fallin is coming to terms with the demands of being the state's chief executive.
Fallin took time recently to discuss what she's learned in her first year and how her life has changed.
Can you contrast your situation going into your second legislative session to last year?
"I have a much higher comfort level this year being as I have one year under my belt as governor of Oklahoma. We've had time to carefully and thoughtfully work through the budget and legislative issues we'll be addressing in the State of the State speech and of course the revenue outlook this year is better than when we took office a year ago."
What law that you worked on last year are you proudest of?
"That's a hard one ... I would say one of the ones I'm most proud of would be the legal reform law that we passed this year because I've heard for many, many years from our businesses and our citizens that we need to do something about the frivolous lawsuits and the high cost of legal fees in Oklahoma."
You had hip surgery in July. How's your hip? Are you fully mobile?
"It's going very, very well. It hasn't slowed me down at all. ... I've probably done a little too much but it didn't really slow me down. I was on crutches a little bit, but that was a long time ago, and I've been working out. I do my exercise. This morning I got up and used the elliptical (machine). I lift weights and walk, but mainly I use the elliptical. Sometimes I work out in the morning and at night.
"That's going to be part of my message this year ... we need to focus on how we improve the health of our state and our citizens."
As the governor is it difficult to find time to work out?
"It is very difficult to find time to exercise and watch what you eat, to be sure you're eating healthy food, but it's important to do. I think it's important to lead by example. So I'm trying to lead by example this year with my health."
Do you have a hard time winding down at the end of the day?
"It is a little challenging to me to turn off my mind at night when I go to sleep. That has always been (a part of ) my personality. I think when you love what you do, and I do love what I do, it is always on your mind, but I do get enough sleep, enough rest. I have to make it a priority to do that."
You end up spending a lot of time in cars going across the state. What do you do with your travel time?
"My staff actually laughs at me because for years I've pulled around a piece of luggage that I put all my work material in. I bring a lot of work material with me in the car because to me the car is like an office. I make phone calls, I write speeches, I read papers ..."
As governor you get to meet a lot of celebrities. Does the thrill wear off?
"It's a great honor to meet someone who is making an impact, making a difference in the world (but) I don't get caught up in those things because they're not the things that impress me. I'm more impressed with what people are doing with their lives, whether it is someone who works in a business that I might walk into or someone who is working with a charity ... those are more of the type of people who are making a difference in people's lives that I might be more impressed with."
What's the strangest question a reporter has ever asked you? :
"Back when I was much younger and I was a new legislator ... I put on a couple of pounds, and one of the reporters for the Tulsa World walked up and asked me if I was pregnant. ... I turned around and said, 'No, Chuck, I'm just fat.' "