Twenty-one years ago, I moved to Oklahoma City, to the neighborhood where I live now. These are exciting times to live in Oklahoma City, but we also face tremendous challenges. While many have prospered, others have been left behind. The plunge in oil prices may have serious negative economic impacts on the community. Our streets are not as safe as they should and can be. This City continues to have a problem misallocation of resources.
This is why I am contemplating running for Oklahoma City Council.
But the point of that campaign would not be to simply make a point or get some publicity for the good causes I am involved with. It would be to actually get elected.
There is no way that I can out spend my opposition. But I am betting that I can out-organize them. The present incumbent won election with 2,000 votes in a ward with a population of 71,000 — 32,700 are Hispanic, 6,000 are African American, and 2,000 are Native American.
Whether I run or not depends entirely on whether people are willing to commit to help me by endorsing my campaign and volunteering their time. I figure I need 100 volunteers at least to get elected. The filing period is the last week of January, and the primary election is the first Tuesday of March, so there’s not a lot of time. If only two candidates file, the winner of the March first Tuesday primary is the new city council member. If there are more than two candidates, there will be a run-off election April 7.
Here are some of my preliminary thoughts.
We live in a big city that is composed of smaller villages – our neighborhoods. But there are problems with the fair and equitable distribution of city resources throughout the City. If elected, I pledge to ensure that all areas of Ward 6 will benefit from city resources such as community block grants and bond issues.
Jobs are the heart beat of the Oklahoma City economy. For the past 11 years, as president and one of the founders of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, I have helped nurture many small food and craft businesses. I know first hand what a nightmare the Oklahoma City bureaucracy can be for small businesses trying to get started. Just figuring out how to legally erect a sign for your business is astonishingly complex. I think it’s past time to slash the red tape and for the City to stop hassling job creators!
Special interest groups should not hijack local government and impose their political or economic agendas on everybody. Serving on the City Council requires work and I am prepared to put in the hours to do the job right. Besides attending council meetings, I will meet with Ward 6 residents at regularly scheduled town meetings in the neighborhoods so that everyone’s voice can be heard at city hall. I am committed to the common good of the entire ward and city.
The misallocation of Oklahoma City’s resources is a crisis issue in this election. Funds that should be directed at strengthening our neighborhoods and public safety programs have been diverted to corporate welfare and to satisfy special interests. As a result, our neighborhoods are not as safe as we can and should be.
City government should treat everyone with even-handed fairness, compassion, and common sense. That isn’t always the case at present when it comes to the workings of Oklahoma City government. We should beware of cutting off our noses to spite our faces with city policies that can have adverse unintended consequences.