By Patrick B. McGuigan
In the Tuesday, March 1 election, 13 candidates are running in four city council races. Early voting will be held at county election boards (primarily Oklahoma County, although parts of the city extend into Cleveland and Canadian counties). City Council races in Oklahoma City are non-partisan, but that’s not to say they are non-political.
In this year’s races, common themes are largely uncritical support for local police and fire unions, an observation true even for strong conservatives who have become involved in the races. Candidates are unified is calling for careful implementation of MAPS 3 improvements, but some shades of difference have emerged in literature, speeches and joint appearances. In recent days, various groups began calling attention to the races through emails, telephone calls and direct mail.
The most lively race might be Ward 2, where The City Sentinel‘s readership is strong and six candidates have filed. The decision of incumbent Sam Bowman to step aside set off as land run of filings. As election day nears, mailers, door-to-door campaigning, home-based “meet-and-greet” events, a series of forums and other activity have heightened interest in a race generally characterized by low voter turnout.
Contending in the Ward 2 contest are Charles Swinton, Ed Shadid, Janis Powers, Jeffrey Stark, John Milner, and Sam Tichenor.
Swinton has support from several elected Democrats and is running campaign focused on neighborhood and law enforcement issues. A banker, he has stressed his work on community-building and economic development with accountability.
Shadid is a self-described “Green” advocate who ran against state Rep. David Dank last year. In recent mailers, Dr. Shadid has stressed neighborhood protection, qualify of life, and adequate funding for police/fire.
Powers has represented Ward 2 on the city Planning Commission, and is calling attention to the endorsement she received from Bowman. Stark says he wants to improve local business performance. Milner, a youthful hopeful, is stressing his youth and new views in the race.
In that Ward 2 race, a final candidate forum gives the opportunity to assess each of the hopefuls in person. That event comes this week (on our publication date: Thursday, Feb. 24), at Putnam Heights Elementary School (1601 N.W. 36th). Ward 2 consists of the near-north side and is a compact densely populated area.
If no candidate gets a majority on March 1, there will be an April 5 runoff between the top two candidates to determine the winner.
In Ward 5 (south, central areas of the city), incumbent Brian Walters faces a challenge from David Greenwell. Walters has garnered both labor union and conservative activist support. Greenwell is stressing his accounting experience as enabling him to help assure strict compliance with MAPS 3 promises. Sprawling Ward 5 on the west side stretches across two counties and is the only area of the city where the MAPS 3 referendum failed.
In Ward 6, downtown and close-in Southside areas, incumbent Meg Salyer faces Jessica L. Holstein and Adrian Van Manen.
Salyer is stressing her record as part of the city leadership team that has crafted the MAPS programs that have rejuvenated downtown and nearby areas. Salyer has campaigned actively, and was in the middle of things at last week’s candidate forum on the Chesapeake Energy campus on the near-north side.
In her statement submitted to The City Sentinel, Salyer stressed the economic advancements of recent years, but stressed, “we are just scratching the surface, and I know I have much more to offer the city. That is why I have decided to seek election to a full-term. I’ve always considered myself a unifier – and that’s what our city needs.”
Van Manen, a church music director, has communicated with mailers and other means, but has not attended forums like the Chesapeake event. He told The Oklahoman he is sympathetic to “tea party” conservatism, but is not a candidate for the group. He has stressed support for police and fire enhancements in recent mailers to local households.
Holstein has not run a highly visible campaign.
Like Ward 2, Ward 6 is nearly “square” in area and is densely populated.
In Ward 8 (far northwest parts of the city), incumbent Pat Ryan, former U.S. Attorney is challenged this year by Cliff Hearron, an passionate conservative who has stressed local issues in his campaign.
In a statement to The City Sentinel, Hearron was critical of street maintenance and expressed concern there are police and fire personnel shortages. In news media interviews, Ryan has expressed admiration for some achievements of tea party-linked activists, but said he believes the non-partisan attributes of local elections benefit the city.
The City Sentinel printed statements from candidates in their own words in the February 3 and February 17 editions. Meg Salyer’s remarks appear on the News section of today’s edition. Most, but not all, candidates replied.
In all, Swinton, Shadid, Powers, Stark, Salyer, Hearron and Milner have in the course of recent weeks presented summaries of their views in the The City Sentinel.