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Challengers win seats on Oklahoma City Council

Runoff elections favored challengers in Tuesday's Oklahoma City Council elections in Wards 1 and 7.
by William Crum Modified: April 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm •  Published: April 2, 2013

Oklahoma City voters elected two new members to the city council in Tuesday's runoff elections.

John A. Pettis Jr., 30, defeated two-term incumbent Ronald “Skip” Kelly in Ward 7 in northeast Oklahoma City. James Greiner, 32, will succeed three-term incumbent Gary Marrs in Ward 1 on the northwest side.

“I just felt it was time for a change,” said Eyrline Morgan, 76, who voted for Greiner at Western Oaks Church of the Nazarene, 7901 NW 16. That's also Greiner's polling place.

Turnout on a chilly day with record rainfall was light, with only 6.5 percent of eligible voters casting ballots in Ward 7 and 9 percent voting in Ward 1.

Absentee and early voters raised the totals to 7.6 percent in Ward 7 and 10 percent in Ward 1.

Pettis beat Kelly 1,940 votes, or 61.7 percent, to 1,202, or 38.3 percent. Greiner defeated Marrs 1,775, or 57.1 percent, to 1,333, or 42.9 percent.

Mayor Mick Cornett said voters spoke individually — rather than collectively — in turning out two veteran council members who had the mayor's endorsement, along with the benefit of his voice and image in campaign ads.

“There are certainly people who will view this in many, many different ways, and I think they're all right,” Cornett said.

Tuesday's winners will take their seats next Tuesday. Council members serve four-year terms, earning $12,000 per year.

Larry McAtee in Ward 3 and Pete White in Ward 4, who ran unopposed and were re-elected in last month's primary, will be sworn in for new terms the same day.

Ward 1

Marrs, 66, is a former Oklahoma City fire chief who was elected to the council in 2004.

He said he called Greiner to wish him well and that he hoped “he has as much enjoyment serving the citizens as I have.”

Greiner is a graphics team leader at Hobby Lobby.

He knocked on thousands of doors, spreading a message of limited government.

Greiner said Tuesday night he was already lined up to attend a meeting Thursday night in a neighborhood where a new self-storage unit is planned.

“I just try and take things one step at a time and move on to the next task,” he said.

Marrs ran a close second to Greiner — trailing by 21 votes — in the three-way March 5 primary but raised far more money.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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