WASHINGTON â€” U.S. Rep.-elect James Lankford went to a dinner honoring Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett while in Washington last week.
Cornett soon will be Lankford's constituent
It's a little known fact, but Lankford is already Cornett's constituent. That was part of their dinner conversation.
Lankford has an Edmond mailing address and identifies himself as being from Edmond. In the biography on his campaign website, Lankford says he moved to Edmond after getting his master's degree. In fact, he moved to Oklahoma City.
Lankford's house is in Oklahoma City and is actually miles from Edmond.
Cornett's former chief of staff, David Holt, who has made a mission of knowing the many mismatches between Oklahoma City boundaries and U.S. Postal Service designations, has been behind a push to get Lankford to identify his residency correctly. Holt, who was recently elected to the Oklahoma state Senate, also informed The Oklahoman, which has identified Lankford as being from Edmond.
â€œWe think it's important to be accurate,â€ Cornett said, adding that the city is proud to have Lankford as a resident.
The congressman-elect said it is â€œchallenging that I live in Oklahoma City proper, I have an Edmond mailing address and my kids attend Deer Creek schools.â€
He said he receives Oklahoma City water and sewer services, and is covered by the city's police and fire departments.
While in Washington, he said, he had to fill out paperwork in which he noted that his house is in Oklahoma City. When he saw Cornett at the dinner, Lankford said, he joked to the mayor that he had complied with Holt's wishes.
Because of the way the U.S. Postal Service assigns ZIP codes, Lankford's situation is not unusual in Oklahoma City or in the United States.
According to a map provided by Holt of the city's boundaries and the various ZIP codes within them, there are Oklahoma City residents with mailing addresses of Edmond, Jones, Spencer, Yukon, Piedmont, Norman, Choctaw and Newalla.
Edmond Mayor Patrice Douglas, responding to an e-mail inquiry from The Oklahoman, said, â€œAs mayor of Edmond, we welcome James as an Edmondite â€” regardless of his technical address.
â€œA great many people have an Edmond address due to post office distinctions but technically live inside (Oklahoma City) limits. This is more confusing when it is coupled with the fact that many attend Edmond Public Schools as well (our school district extends beyond the boundaries of Edmond proper).â€
A 2006 report by the Congressional Research Service, part of the U.S. Congress, states:
â€œBecause ZIP codes are based on the location of delivery post offices, they often do not correspond to political jurisdiction boundaries. This means that millions of Americans receive their mail from a post office in an adjacent town, village or neighborhood, and their mailing address reflects the name and ZIP code of that post office rather than the jurisdiction where they actually live.â€
Roy Betts, manager of community relations for the U.S. Postal Service, said city boundaries and ZIP codes â€œfrequently do not align.â€ ZIP code boundaries, he said, are based on Postal Service efficiencies to deliver mail.
The mismatches can create problems with everything ranging from car insurance rates to confusion about jury duty and municipal elections, the report says.
Lankford said that because of his mailing address, he'll have to continue being a man of two cities. He said he wouldn't hesitate to identify himself as being either from Edmond or Oklahoma City.
Holt, who inherited his obsession with the ZIP code mismatches from his predecessor, now-Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud, said it bothers him when he sees prominent Oklahoma City residents identified as being from different towns because of the Postal Service designations.
â€œIt's also a city pride thing,â€ he said. â€œEdmond has a lot of great things to be proud of, and so does Oklahoma City. In this case, James Lankford is one of them.â€
Douglas, the Edmond mayor, said, â€œOf course there is civic pride in having leaders identified with your community.
â€œBut Oklahoma City and Edmond are not taking aim at each other. We work together on many issues and initiatives, and are frankly happy to be neighbors.â€