“I’m not just running for mayor of downtown,” said David Holt. “I’m running for mayor of all of Oklahoma City.”
And it seemed to sum up the core of the state senator’s campaign for mayor of Oklahoma City.
He was answering one of many questions Thursday at a packed meeting of the Capitol Hill Civic Group, an informal gathering of south side politicians, business leaders, civic leaders and serial bystanders.
Holt reassured the group that after the four-term leadership of Mayor Mick Cornett “it’s a great time to question everything.”
The comments drew a distinction between what he wants as a mayor and what has been pursued over the last decade as Cornett rallied the city to grow and develop a stong downtown.
But the results of those efforts was a growing skepticism of especially south side Oklahoma Cityans about whether Cornett was listening to the wider population or just downtown kingpins, many of whom actually live in Edmond.
Next big thing
Holt’s message drew smiles and nods from the group where some are already throwing their support behind him.
“Capitol Hill is the next big thing,” said Holt about the old Capitol Hill shopping corridor along SW 25th Street between Walker and Robinson.
“The smart money guys like Steve Mason are starting to invest.”
He was referring to Mason’s purchase of the old Yale Theater just down the street from Grill on the Hill on SW 25th where the group meets.
Mason has a reputation for seeing potential in older parts of the city that seem doomed, first investing in Automobile Alley along N. Broadway and then in the Plaza District on NW 16th Street far before many others saw their potential.
The room became still and quiet when he was asked a question about Holt’s views on DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
He said that “there is only so much a city can do about federal programs,” but he believed that the harsh attitudes seen in other parts of the U.S. should not be the approach of Oklahoma City.
“These are citizens I love,” Holt said. “I’m not going to demonize whole communities like some politicians do. That’s not me.”
Free Press followed that question asking if he would support the current policy of the Oklahoma City Police Department to not be the front line of immigration status enforcement under the new more aggressive policies of the Trump administration.
His answer was that he does support their policy.
Chief Bill Citty and other OKCPD leadership have made it clear that the city is not as safe if residents fear that any police call will result in questions being asked about their immigration status.
An increasingly broader spectrum of city residents have seen him showing up at events around the city, including the south side, leading to an abundance of quips for years on social media about his possible run for mayor.
But his official campaign cranked up in February 2017 when he announced his candidacy. He filed in December as one of three Republicans lining up for the non-partisan office.
Taylor Neighbors and Randall Smith are the other two who will join Holt in the primary February 13.
Holt has voted reliably along partisan lines during his time as a state senator since coming in with the 2010 anti-Obama mid-term wave.
But over the last 7 years, his outlook has changed to encompass an increasingly wider perspective on people and politics than his stalwart party colleagues.