The wide-open Oklahoma City Ward 2 City Council election race is jammed with six candidates jostling to succeed outgoing two-term Councilman Sam Bowman.
The Ward 2 primary election on Tuesday likely will end in a runoff on April 5. In anticipation of a tight race, candidates have been hitting the campaign trail, trying to get their messages out and spending money.
Of the 13 people vying for four city council seats, the two top spending candidates as of Feb. 13 were senior bank officer Charlie Swinton and physician Ed Shadid, both Ward 2 candidates. According to finance reports filed last week, each had spent more than $21,000 on the campaign trail.
That spending is not deterring the other candidates: student and entrepreneur Sam Tichenor, business owner John Milner, Oklahoma City Planning Commissioner Janis Powers and union representative Jeffrey Stark.
Swinton, 61, a lobbyist at the state Capitol on behalf of his employer, BancFirst, said he wants to create jobs and work with public schools to improve education opportunities.
“I think the city has to continue to be at the forefront in creating jobs for its citizens,” he said. “I'm for projects like MAPS. I'm for economic incentives, particularly if we can get corporate headquarters moving here.”
It's not the first foray in politics for Shadid, 42, a spinal surgeon. Shadid ran last year for state House District 85 as an independent candidate.
“We need a fiercely independent voice on the city council,” Shadid said. “I think as a physician I would bring unique ideas. I would strongly advocate for local food production and distribution. I would strongly advocate for healthier food in our schools for our children.”
Tichenor, 32, a University of Oklahoma student majoring in petroleum engineering, said he was inspired to run by the rise of tea party groups, which have increased citizen
“I support most of the ideals they profess, but wouldn't call myself a tea partyer,” he said. “My main concern is spending and long-term investment. Our city is doing a good job of angling ourselves toward positive growth ... I would just like to continue that growth and promote more.”
Milner, a co-owner of Tree and Leaf Clothing Co. and the youngest candidate in the election, said he decided to run when he realized his generation will be the caretakers of many of the city projects now under way.
“I'm 26, with some of these programs not completing for 10 to 15 years, I'm going to be 35 or 40,” he said. “That generation is going to be taking care of it. I think we do need a little bit more of a say. We're the ones that are going to be seeing it and probably enjoying it.”
Janis Powers, 55, the Ward 2 planning commissioner, said she is running because she has worked closely with Bowman and wants to be a strong neighborhood advocate.
“All these other issues have got a lot of vocal advocates and there's going to be plenty of debate,” she said. “There has to be somebody at the table saying what about the neighborhoods. Ward 2 is the second smallest ward but it has the largest number of neighborhood associations of any of them.”
Stark, 39, a representative for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said he is running because he wants to make sure Oklahoma City residents are considered for jobs created by city-sponsored development.