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.
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.
Morgan, voting only a few blocks from Greiner's house, said the neighborhood has had problems with drugs and security. Her family had a car break-in at 4 one morning, she said.
As for a nearby boarded-up, partially burned-out apartment complex: “I'd like to see those go.”
Dennis Sawyer, 57, who also voted at the Western Oaks church, said he had voted for Marrs before and did so again Tuesday.
Marrs' record as a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran and longtime public servant — as a firefighter and later as chief at the time of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing — was persuasive, he said.
“I give a little preference to that,” he said.
Sawyer noted Marrs won the endorsement of Carolyn Sims, who ran third in last month's Ward 1 primary. He also thought Greiner “might be a little too young.”
As for his neighborhood, Sawyer said the roads could stand improvement.
“I do get tired of seeing everything for Bricktown,” he said.
Kelly, 63, was seeking his third term. Cornett recorded a phone message and radio ad for him.
Pettis benefited significantly from donations by political committees, including the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), labor groups and Realtors.
An FOP ad called for a council member who would “stand up against crime.”
Though he won the primary with 31 percent of the vote to 26 percent for Pettis, Kelly was saddled by a pending drunken-driving case.
Chuck Ford, 39, a former teacher who runs a window tinting business, had characterized Pettis over the weekend as “young, vibrant, energetic, with good ideas.”
His issue with Kelly: “Integrity.”
Former state Rep. Kevin Cox, speaking at the same community Easter egg hunt at the King David Masonic Lodge, had a similar critique.
“I think John is a man of integrity,” said Cox, who represented the area as a Democrat in the House for 24 years.
Weather appeared to have slowed voting.
Oklahoma City's official rainfall total to 7 p.m., recorded at Will Rogers World Airport, was 1.16 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
That broke the old record for the date of 0.99 inches set in 1922. Temperatures were in the 30s most of the day.