by Patrick B. McGuigan
Incumbent Oklahoma City Council Member Meg Salyer faces two individuals who want her spot on the local governing body, where she has served since 2008.
Like other candidates for city jobs, Salyer has said she wants to assure “neighborhood needs” are met. Last fall, when she announced her intention to seek another term from Ward 6 voters, William Crum of The Oklahoman reported she believes 2017 will be “critically important year for keeping the city moving forward.” That is the year voters will scrutinize city-wide bond projects, including financing for streets, sidewalks and other needs. She said, Crum wrote, that after six years,“I really feel like I’m starting to hit my stride.”
Salyer wants the MAPS 3 programs to continue and “exceed the expectations of voters,” The Oklahoman reported. This year, she faces a pair of serious opponents.
One is Dario Alvarado, a passionate advocate of the near south-side area, along with the rest of the Ward. He supports and applauds targeted economic development efforts, including those in the Paseo Historic District north of MidTown, and the Plaza District along N.W. 16 Street. However, Alvarado observed that when it comes to Capitol Hill, “not so much has been done.”
Alvarado hopes to boost voter turnout and citizen participation in the district’s south end. Low participation in elections there, he reflected, could be due to exclusion, lack of outreach or perhaps lack of information. While he is campaigning throughout the area, he affirms “I’d like to see more development and focus south of the river.”
Alvarado is trilingual – English, Spanish and German. He was a German language representative for Seagate early in his career, handling clients in the European, Middle East and African markets, according to an online biographical sketch. He taught German in local public schools, and worked in public relations with both Action Link and Cevallos Media.
In the latter job, Alvarado worked on management and production of the “Nuestra Comunidad” newspaper. Presently, he runs a start-up business known as GreENergy Oklahoma. It is a local firm that specializes in “Green construction and consulting.”
In an interview with The City Sentinel, Alvarado compared local governance to “a piece of music. Let’s have both the community and business interests working together. We need not only to develop businesses but also our neighborhoods.”
Salyer’s other opponent is a veteran activist for social justice, Bob Waldrop. He is president of the Oklahoma food coop, and has served as a member of Catholic Charities’ Migrants & Refugees advisory panel.
In an advertisement, Waldrop jabbed at what he considers a comparative lack of city services for areas outside of downtown, saying, “We need economic development for the rest of us, organic management practices for our parks, low interest loans for insulation and solar power, and support for our City’s small business job creators.” Like others in Ward 6, he is critical of “diverting resources away form schools, libraries, and public safety for downtown development.”
Walpole was featured prominently in a “spiritual life” story in The Oklahoman last Sunday. He told reporter Carla Hinton about his repeated efforts to stop smoking, often aimed to coincide with Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent in his Catholic faith. He finally succeeded in kicking the habit a few years ago, and is leading a “Great Catholic Smoke Out” at his home parish (Epiphany of the Lord on the north side).
After a quiet start , the race showed signs of heating up last weekend.
On Friday, February 13, Salyer posted this brief note on social media: “Wise advise: ‘Don’t stop to throw rocks at barking dogs as you won’t make it to your destination.’”
It wasn’t long before a city woman asked, in reply, “Did you really just call a minority candidate a dog?” That rebuttal was pushed out to not only Salyer, but also The Oklahoma Gazette, a weekly paper, The Lost Ogle blog, and to Alvarado.
Entering what might, or might not, be the last two weeks of the election campaign, Waldrop is gigging Salyer from the left, albeit with an inclusive tone as befits a fourth generational Oklahoma.
As for Alvarado, he amped up opposition in recent days, criticizing the incumbent from both left and right. He says she is not concerned enough about middle class parts of town, even as she supports shifting public education funds to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to benefit business.
If no candidate receives an outright majority of the votes cast on March 3 (and in early voting), the top two hopefuls will enter an April 7 runoff.