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Oklahoma City signature drives fall short

by William Crum Modified: June 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm •  Published: June 3, 2014

Three efforts to change OKC ordinances by a vote of the people are dead.

Backers of initiatives to raise the minimum wage, reduce penalties for possession of marijuana, and impose term limits on the mayor and city council members failed to turn in the needed signatures. Leaders of all three petition drives faced a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday to submit their signatures to the city clerk’s office.

City Clerk Frances Kersey said Tuesday that none were turned in.

The minimum wage petition drive already had been suspended after the Legislature earlier this spring prohibited cities from adopting their own minimum wage ordinances. These are the last of the initiative petitions filed this year, and all fell short of the signatures needed to call a vote.

Leaders of an effort to have voters decide whether to build the MAPS 3 convention center and whether to end the MAPS 3 sales tax early failed in April to meet their signature deadline. The series of five initiative petitions was unusual -- if not unprecedented; there had been fewer than 30 in the city’s previous 125-year history.

Organizers said the opportunity to put issues before voters was enhanced by the fact that only about 6,000 valid signatures were required. The number of required signatures is a function of how many people vote in city-wide elections.

Turnout had been low in the 2010 mayor’s race, lowering the signature threshold. Since turnout jumped for the March 2014 mayoral election, the number of required signatures for future initiatives has doubled to around 12,000. 

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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