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.
• 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.”
• 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.”
• 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.”
• SERVICE: South Creston Hills and White Orchard neighborhood associations; Bound 4 Glory and Beyond; Ashley Parham Foundation; served a year with Multi-National Force – Iraq.
• IN HIS WORDS: “There's a stigma assigned to Ward 7. I want to take that stigma away.”
• OCCUPATION: Retired from Oklahoma Turnpike Authority; former vice-chairwoman, Oklahoma Democratic Party 5th District.
• ON THE ISSUES: Having more police officers on the streets deters crime, said Buckner, 74. Northeast Oklahoma City needs better street lights, street striping, street repairs and sidewalks: “Potholes, cracked up streets, it's just bad.” Ward 7 needs bus shelters, and bus routes and schedules that get riders where they need to go, Buckner said. Children need safe places to play, she said: “I think if there was more organized recreation for them it would get them off the street.”
• SERVICE: Former board member, VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement); driver, RSVP, taking senior citizens to medical appointments.
• IN HER WORDS: “I think it's a lot that we could be doing in our communities that we aren't doing for a lack of organization.”
RONALD “SKIP” KELLY
• OCCUPATION: City council member, elected in 2007, re-elected 2009; attorney in private practice.
• ON THE ISSUES: Kelly, 63, points to successes such as refurbishment of Lincoln Park, where trails, playground and exercise equipment, and new trees reversed a downward spiral: “Stop some things and some new things will grow.” He looks ahead to development of a family aquatics center and to efforts to return full-service groceries to the northeast side – projects he says would address the fact that Ward 7 has the two ZIP codes with the worst health statistics in Oklahoma.
• SERVICE: National League of Cities' Community and Economic Development Committee and the Youth, Families and Education Council.
• IN HIS WORDS: “I think what we're trying to save is the next generation.”
JOHN A. PETTIS JR.
• OCCUPATION: Director, Oklahoma Institute for Minority Affairs
• ON THE ISSUES: Pettis, 30, endorses tax incentives to promote economic development and ties that to a requirement that businesses that receive tax incentives hire within Ward 7. Job training, street and sidewalk repairs, and improvements to the bus system are issues he says Ward 7 voters tell him they care about: “Oklahoma City ranks at the bottom of transit for those who need it most.” He says the ward needs retail development, including full-service grocery stores.
• SERVICE: New Horizons District, Boy Scouts; Al Araf Temple Shriners; Central Oklahoma Workforce Investment Board Youth Council.
• IN HIS WORDS: “For too long Ward 7 has been the forgotten ward when it comes to economic development.”
BEN T. ROBINSON
• OCCUPATION: Aerospace consultant; retired Boeing aerospace executive; retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general.
• ON THE ISSUES: While some refer to Ward 7 as the city's “forgotten ward,” Robinson calls it the city's “emerging ward.” He advocates a focus on quality of life and quality of opportunity for residents. “Quality of life may be a 30-minute bus ride rather than two hours but quality of opportunity is having a good job at the end of the bus route,” he says in a letter to voters. Robinson, 65, says he brings business experience that's been lacking in Ward 7's representation.
• SERVICE: Honored recently as an “Afterschool Champion” by the national Afterschool Alliance; Governor's Science & Technology Council; Vietnam-era Army helicopter pilot.
• IN HIS WORDS: “The councilman is going to have to understand the diversity of the entire ward and work with the entire ward.”
• OCCUPATION: Supervisor, Pauline E. Mayer Children's Shelter, Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
• ON THE ISSUES: Young, 29, says voters are most concerned about crime on the city's northeast side – and a lot of what occurs goes unreported. Her solution? Neighbors, businesses and police working as partners to drive down crime: “If neighbors are involved you don't have to depend so much on the police.” Young advocates bringing down crime as the first step toward restoring amenities like playgrounds and pools and fostering economic development and jobs.
• IN HER WORDS: “I am young but a lot of good things come with that. First all, I don't have any ways to be set in. I'll always have a good ear to listen to people.”