As with most municipal elections, turnout is expected to be very low for the February 9 election. In recent elections, popular candidates have won their seats by a mere few hundred votes.
That means candidates working to get people to actually vote in this election have the upper hand.
Candidates are spending time and money on web presence, campaign mailers, signs, and–most importantly–door knocking in their respective wards to get to know the voters and encourage them to come out and vote for somebody they’ve met.
Candidates working hard
With Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner and Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee both deciding not to seek another term on the Council, the seats for both wards are wide open and have each drawn a slew of contenders.
The competition for Ward 1’s seat has attracted no fewer than nine candidates. Megan Scott, Jay Sherill, Shay Varnell, Nana Dankwa, Susan Kay Parisi, Bradley Carter, Richard Buchanon, Bill Fleming, and newcomer Joshua Debolt–who has himself never voted in a city election–have each thrown their proverbial hats into the ring.
In Ward 3, six candidates have filed to run for City Council. Kelly Paine, Jessica Martinez-Brooks, Barbara Young, Tim Long, Alan Swanda, and Trey Bishop–a candidate who is seeking public office in spite of avowing that taxation is theft.
While Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone is running as an incumbent, he has drawn two capable challengers.
The first is Larry Hopper, a transit activist and former City employee. Hopper worked as a senior planner for the City and is focused on quality of life issues.
The other contender is Sam Wargin Grimaldo, a law student and life-long southside resident who wants to take a “people-focused” approach to municipal government.
Ward 7 is also due for an election, however, Councilwoman Nikki Nice drew no opponents for this round of elections and will be retaining her seat on the Council.
If any candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in their ward, they will be considered the winner of their election. If no candidate wins 50%, the two candidates with the most votes will go to a runoff on April 6 to determine the next Councilor. Winning candidates will take their offices on April 13.
To learn more:
- OKC Ward 3 candidates weigh in on infrastructure, sprawl, other issues
- Big differences in ideas about south side revealed in OKC Ward 4 race
Voter turnout efforts
One candidate in Ward 1, Megan Scott, messaged Free Press about the campaign trail.
“City Council elections provide voters the best opportunity to directly affect change in our community. It’s why as a candidate I spend so much time knocking doors, making phone calls, and writing postcards to get voters to the polls,” Scott said, adding, “The more people we have engaged in the electoral process, the more likely we end up with elected leaders who are willing to be responsive to residents.”
Some voters have already made up their minds about candidates in their Wards. One voter in Ward 4 messaged Free Press about voting in the upcoming city election.
Christian Reese, an educator and public school administrator who lives in Ward 4 had this to say:
“I’m going to vote for Sam Wargin. His history on the South Side provides genuine representation for the ward. He understands the people and issues at the heart of our city. He supports affordable housing and community building over gentrification. His experience as a teacher further shows his care and investment in the City’s future.”
Reese says he plans to vote absentee, but intends to hand-deliver his ballot to the County Election Board.
For residents of Oklahoma City who live outside Oklahoma County, your County Election Boards will be able to receive your absentee ballots in person as well.
For full information on where to vote and how to vote, see our earlier report:
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Last Updated January 28, 2021, 10:59 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor