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Council seats are up for grabs in election

City Council seats up for grabs in election
by William Crum Published: March 4, 2013
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Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Tuesday's city council election in Oklahoma City. Pete White in Ward 4 and Larry McAtee in Ward 3 are running unopposed; Ward 1 incumbent Gary Marrs drew two opponents and six challengers lined up against Ronald “Skip” Kelly in Ward 7. Registered voters who want to vote absentee can do so on Monday; for information on absentee voting and polling places for Tuesday call the Oklahoma County Election Board at 713-1515.

Ward 1 candidates

Two candidates are running in northwest Oklahoma City's Ward 1 in an attempt to unseat incumbent Gary Marrs, the former Oklahoma City fire chief first elected to the city council in 2004. Marrs has raised far more money than his opponents.

JAMES GREINER

• OCCUPATION: Graphic design team leader, Hobby Lobby.

• ON THE ISSUES: Greiner, 31, says that, as a young father with a passion for politics, he got tired of talking about problems all the time and decided he wanted to be part of the solution. He says the top issues voters raise with him are roads and public safety – and he's heard from a lot of voters, estimating that he's knocked on “probably about 2,500 doors.” Greiner, a member of Covenant Community Church in Yukon, says his faith is the foundation that influences and informs him.

• SERVICE: Council Oaks Neighborhood Association; his children's church activities.

• IN HIS WORDS: “I think without the Bible the world doesn't make much sense to me.”

GARY MARRS

• OCCUPATION: City council member, elected 2004, re-elected 2005, 2009; former Oklahoma City fire chief.

• ON THE ISSUES: Marrs, 66, says street conditions – maintaining roads and widening the busiest routes – is “always No. 1” for residents. The most effective thing a council member can do is find the right balance between promoting economic development throughout the city and meeting neighborhood needs for such things as street maintenance and public safety, he says. Among issues northwest-side voters raise: inadequate police response times and occasional low water pressure.

• SERVICE: Arts Council, past president; Leadership OKC; YMCA; Vietnam-era Air Force veteran.

• IN HIS WORDS: “The best thing we can do is bring people in and bring in growth so the increasing cost of government is spread among increasing numbers of taxpayers.”

CAROLYN SIMS

• OCCUPATION: Realtor, Keller Williams Realty; former executive director, Myriad Gardens Foundation.

• ON THE ISSUES: Sims, 63, says voters tell her the city needs to be more responsive to the needs of their neighborhoods. She talks about the need for balance between downtown redevelopment and such things as new sidewalks and efficient bus service. The crime rate on the northwest side is high, Sims says: “We don't have enough police officers on the street.” She says her work in neighborhoods gives her an ability to build consensus and get things done.

• SERVICE: Worked to secure a grant for neighborhood beautification along Rockwell Avenue; founder, Oklahoma City Giving Day.

• IN HER WORDS: “People support what they helped create.” Ward 7 candidates Six candidates are running in northeast Oklahoma City's Ward 7 in an attempt to unseat incumbent Ronald “Skip” Kelly, who is seeking his second full four-year term. Kelly was on the radio with campaign ads far ahead of any of his opponents. Candidate Randon Gibson did not respond to requests for information.

JOHN E. BILBURY III

• OCCUPATION: Retired from Tinker Air Force Base after 31-year career; retired as a colonel after 33-year career in U.S. Army Reserve.

• ON THE ISSUES: Crime and poverty keep the northeast from realizing its potential, says Bilbury, 58. He sees potential for economic growth in land that could be developed for manufacturing; while northeast residential neighborhoods lack investment, he says, despite being only minutes from downtown and Bricktown. Some fear going out because of crime, and residents lack shopping options: “I want a Walmart on this side of town. I want to spend money in Oklahoma City.”

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by William Crum
Reporter
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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