“I will resign from the City Council in April 2011. I began my career in 1965 with the Salvation Army. My life’s work has been devoted to community and public service. These last 8 years serving on the City Council, have arguably, been the best of times in the history of Oklahoma City.
The level of citizen confidence in our local government has never been higher.An independent survey conducted last year reported that 83% of our residents believe the City is heading in the right direction. I’ve served with a Mayor, Council and management team who are outstanding public servants.
The degree of civility present on this City Council must be the envy of many local governments.
Eight years ago I ran for city Council on a platform of preserving and protecting neighborhoods. Ward 2 is essentially, fully developed. There are more neighborhood associations in Ward 2, by far, than any other Ward. Proactive code enforcement, neighborhood improvement grants and extensive capital improvements in our neighborhood parks have helped strengthen neighborhoods across the City.
These efforts are only as good as the people who make up these neighborhoods, and the Neighborhood Alliance has been a very effective partner in helping to strengthen and preserve our neighborhoods.
My outlook for Oklahoma City is very optimistic. “Quality of life” is becoming more and more a household word in discussions on City Council. There was a sense of timidity in using the term when I came on the City Council. I think it began to change with our year long moratorium on commercial development at Lake Hefner. We now talk about a Lake Hefner Plan that preserves and protects the environmental and recreational integrity of one of the City’s most precious jewels.
We continue to extend our system of trails throughout the City. MAPS3 will enable us to connect all three City lakes with a trail system more expansive than any other community in the Midwest.
For 40 years the City did not build any new sidewalks. Since the year 2000, new sidewalk policies, a bond issue including sidewalks in 31 neighborhoods, and $10 million in MAPS3 for sidewalks on arterial streets have made sidewalks a talking point in nearly every meeting where quality of life is discussed. Plans for new forms of transit are exciting and encouraging.
This will help to reconnect our City in becoming a more livable community. I believe the real sleeper in MAPS3 is the concept of senior wellness and aquatic centers. With the right institutional partners, these centers will put Oklahoma City on the map as a popular retirement destination.
As MAPS for Kids winds down, the City Council and the Oklahoma City School Board have committed to work together to improve the academic achievements of 40,000 plus students residing within the walls of beautiful, new facilities. This partnership is new territory for both the Council and the School Board. It is an enormous challenge, but one that must be met, if our schools are going to make the improvements all of us want to see.
One of the concerns I have as I take leave of city government, is the increasing demand to continue to do more with less. At some point we have to reckon with the reality that we must pay for quality services. If we expect to grow and continue to deliver quality services, it simply comes down to no more cuts. Oklahoma City citizens have proven again and again that they’re willing to tax themselves to improve the quality of life for all people in our community. Approximately 83% of our citizens believe the City is going in the right direction. I will leave the Council in April of this year feeling good and grateful that Oklahoma City is going in the right direction.”