By Patrick B. McGuigan
Council Member Dr. Ed Shadid is seeking a second term on the City Council, where he has been a passionate vote for accountability in use of public resources. He is being opposed by three opponents in the March 3 election, including Rev. Major L. Jemison, a well-known east side minister. The race is the most visible of three city council seats in contention.
Pastor Jemison presides over the flock at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, one of the most active congregations in Oklahoma City. The church operates St. John Christian Heritage Academy, a private school serving grades pre-K through six. He has served the church since 1984, when he joined the staff. He assumed leadership there in 2003.
Jemison led the Progressive Baptist National Convention in 2006. He studied at Harvard Divinity School, earning a Master’s degree in 1994.
In his campaign literature, Jemison says he is focused “on the issues that matter most.” He “wants to protect MAPS, invest in public safety, maintain our streets, enhance our schools and focus on economic development.” He contends those politics “will ensure we continue to add jobs and protect our neighborhoods, so that Oklahoma City keeps moving in the right direction.”
Jemison has support from some members of the City Chamber of Commerce. A leading campaign theme is “unity over divisiveness.” His campaign literature promises he will work “with all sides to accomplish what is best for Oklahoma City,” maintaining that “In the past four years” there has been “bitterness and divisiveness on the council. … Disagreements don’t have to become divisive.”
Jemison says he will support public safety improvements. Jemison contends Dr. Shadid “has called for undoing what the voters have passed” in the MAPS process. Jemison said in one campaign mailer, “We have experienced great progress in our city but we need the right leadership to ensure we continue moving in the right direction.”
As for Councilman Shadid, he has enjoyed support from police and fire associations throughout his time in office. He has become known for well-attended public forums on virtually every issue facing the community, including water policy, public safety, transit, health care, urban sprawl, and the economics of the convention center. One of his most recent sessions, held at The Tower Hotel ballroom on Northwest Highway, focused on “planOKC,” the city’s long-range planning process touching most of the foregoing issues.
Dr. Shadid’s predecessor as Ward 2 council member, Sam Bowman, is one of his best-known advocates. He defends Shadid’s record as “a proven leader.” bowman praised the public forums for bringing the community “together for public participating and deliberation of critical issues in a manner not seen in the modern history of the [city] council.” Bowman believes Shadid’s work “improved the outcome” of both the Boulevard and Lake Hefner drilling deliberations.
As Bowman pointed out in a Shadid campaign mailer, thousands of people have attended these sessions. Shadid himself has strongly encouraged increased citizen involvement, pointing to early stages of the bond issues voters will consider city-wide in 2017.
In a mailer that arrived at Ward 2 addresses last week, Shadid said he “will continue to give the people of Oklahoma City everything I have and intend to continue to achieve unprecedented levels of neighborhood organization, and public participation and deliberation in the municipal political process.”
Others in the election include James Cooper, who was a campaign manager last year, and John Riley, a teacher. Little has been seen or heard from Riley, while Cooper is positioning himself as “a positive progressive.” Cooper, an adjunct professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University, said, in a release early in his campaign, that Shadid has created “divisiveness and unnecessary conflict.”
Shadid drew strong support from progressives and some conservatives in his unsuccessful candidacy for mayor of Oklahoma City in 2014. His drive and determination in that race provoked higher-than-normal voter turnout, as he sought to defeat incumbent Mayor Mick Cornett. Cornett countered Shadid and won the race last spring.
In the Ward 2 race for this year, all the candidates except Riley participated in a candidate forum last week. The VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement) group co-sponsored the event.
If no contender receives an outright majority in the March 3 election, a runoff election will take place on April 7.
In Ward 6, incumbent Meg Salyer faces two opponents, Dario Alvarado and Bob Waldrop, in a race highlighted in last week’s editions of The City Sentinel.
In Ward 8, Steve Curry, John Alan Ederer and Mark Stonecipher want to replace Council member Pat Ryan, who did not seek reelection.