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Veteran Oklahoma City Council members forced into runoffs

Challengers in contested races in Ward 1, in northwest Oklahoma City, and Ward 7 on the northeast side will advance to next month's general election.
BY WILLIAM CRUM Modified: March 5, 2013 at 11:13 pm •  Published: March 5, 2013

Two young challengers for seats on the Oklahoma City Council forced veteran council members into runoffs in Tuesday's primary election.

John A. Pettis Jr., 30, trailed Ronald “Skip” Kelly but ran a solid second among six challengers in northeast Oklahoma City's Ward 7.

James Greiner, 31, led Gary Marrs by 21 votes in a three-way race in Ward 1 on the northwest side.

Voters will make their final choice April 2.

Kelly and Marrs raised tens of thousands of dollars for their races.

Their poorly funded challengers found support among voters, though — in Greiner's case by knocking on thousands of doors, in Pettis' case because of voters' concerns about Kelly's arrest last year on an accusation of drunken driving.

With 51 of 51 precincts reporting in Ward 7, Kelly had 962 votes, or 30.9 percent, to 806 votes, or 25.9 percent for Pettis.

With 37 of 37 precincts reporting in Ward 1, Greiner had 985 votes, or 39.2 percent, to 964 votes, or 38.3 percent for Marrs.

“We feel good where we are,” said Kelly, 63, who was first elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2009.

“Everybody said that's what it was going to be … a runoff between somebody and me,” he said. “We're still on top of the game and still have to go through the second stage of this.”

Voters' concerns

Rosalind Butler, 61, voted Tuesday afternoon at Oakdale Baptist Church at E Hefner and N Sooner roads in Ward 7.

Butler said Kelly had gotten her vote before, but this time she voted for John E. Bilbury III, a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel.

Kelly “hasn't really done very much,” she said.

Butler said Kelly never came around when her nearby neighborhood had meetings to organize its response to a wildfire that burned dozens of homes in 2011.

Kelly's second arrest since 2009 on drunken driving accusations figured into her vote, she said.

“One is bad enough, but twice is too much, and three times you're out,” she said.

Kelly, was arrested Jan. 20, 2012, after police found him in his crashed car near NW 63 and Western Avenue. He previously had completed a deferred sentence from a 2009 misdemeanor DUI case.

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