Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid has voted in just four city elections since 2000, a sharp contrast to the voting records of most other city council members and Mayor Mick Cornett.
Shadid, 45, is running for mayor and is expected to face Cornett, who is seeking a fourth term, in the March 4 election.
Having been raised in Oklahoma City and with deep family ties to the city, Shadid said he developed a sense that major decisions were made by a “relatively small number of people.”
He thought voting was futile, he said.
“I was wrong,” Shadid said Wednesday.
“I want people to understand that it's not futile, that they can make a difference,” he said. “We can have a city government that's more responsive to neighborhoods and the people.”
Shadid missed mayors' elections in 2004, 2006 and 2010. He missed two general obligation bond elections since 2000, a hotel/motel tax vote in 2004, and a public safety tax vote in 2000.
He also missed the 2001 MAPS for Kids vote, the 2008 “big league city” tax vote on arena renovations, and the 2009 MAPS 3 vote.
Now he is an advocate of having voters decide whether the city should build the convention center included among the eight MAPS 3 projects.
Voters in 2009 approved a plan to spend the 1-cent MAPS 3 sales tax on capital improvements, but did not vote on individual projects. Those were chosen by the city council.
Shadid voted in elections when city charter amendments were on the ballot in November 2000 and November 2008.
He also voted in his own race in the Ward 2 primary on March 1, 2011, and in the April 5 runoff that year, when he won his council seat.
Cornett has voted in every citywide election since 2000, except a 2005 vote on the Oklahoma Natural Gas franchise, and in ward elections, according to records kept by the Oklahoma County Election Board and the city of Oklahoma City.
“I think voting is one of the greatest privileges Americans have, and it's important to me,” Cornett said Thursday.
Shadid said his view that voting was futile had changed.
“I was wrong in thinking power can't be dispersed to the people, I was wrong in thinking information can't be dispersed to the people,” he said.
Candidate filing in the mayor's race is Jan. 29-31.
If others besides Cornett and Shadid enter the race for March 4 and there is a runoff election, it would be April 1.