In the course of less than ten hours David Holt changed status from Senator in the Oklahoma Legislature to Mayor of Oklahoma City.
He resigned his Senate seat effective 11:59 p.m. Monday and was sworn in as Oklahoma City’s 36th mayor at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Holt enters office as the first tribal member (Osage) in the mayor’s seat and as the youngest mayor in the U.S. of a city over 500,000 people.
Willa Johnson, Oklahoma County commissioner and former Ward 7 Council member, administered the oath of office which is quite lengthy because the oath names individually the different trusts the mayor chairs.
His wife, Rachael held the Bible used as a part of the ceremony as their two young children, George and Maggie, watched closely.
Holt spoke to the full chamber about his hopes for the next four years and beyond.
By his own admission, his talking points were from his campaign in which he swept away all other challengers in the general primary for the non-partisan position.
But a key point he made was unique to the occasion.
He said that the work of the city takes a long time and the things being decided this year may not show an effect until years to come.
By Holt’s design, the mayor’s conference room looked considerably different Tuesday than it did just a week ago.
Traditionally, that room is ringed with photographs of Oklahoma City’s past mayors reaching back to before statehood.
But, he has ordered dramatic changes to what city staff and others using the conference room will see.
“When you go in there today, you will see 20 pictures of the kids of Oklahoma City,” said Holt to the packed chamber. “And they are demographically representative of the kids of Oklahoma City.”
“That’s a different look, perhaps than many of us are used to as we live in our little bubbles. But that’s who we are doing this for. And I wanted those kids to look down on us as we sat in that conference room….”
When he concluded his remarks the crowd gave him one of several standing ovations, he moved to behind the horseshoe and started the meeting that ended at least one hour sooner than usual.
One council member who has not made glowing remarks toward the mayor when it was Mick Cornett was Ward 2 Councilman Dr. Ed Shadid.
But Tuesday when members of the council are given time to make open remarks, Shadid spoke up in favor of the new mayor.
“I just want to express my gratitude for the emphasis you are putting on diversity,” said Shadid. “It warms my heart.”
“Having diversity on the horseshoe and the commissions makes us stronger as a city. I’m very excited about what you have been saying and doing.”
Free Press talked with several who attended the swearing-in.
One was the Chief of the Osage Nation, Geoffrey M. Standing Bear.
“I’m very proud of him, And I know the whole tribe is, too. It’s really wonderful,” said Standing Bear. “And he’s a great example for our people and all of Oklahoma.”
Jorge and Brenda Hernández were early public supporters in Holt’s bid for Mayor. What is their biggest hope now that he is Mayor?
“My hope is he will be much more inclusive, listen to everyone and really take into consideration the needs of the different communities represented in Oklahoma City,” said Brenda Hernández.
“I’m hoping the mayor will invite our community to be a part of the decision-making process and to take our views into consideration as we continue to build this great city,” said Jorge Hernández.
In a short news conference after the Council had adjourned Holt talked about some of his ideas for the future.
One topic he spent considerable time on was education and what the city can do to help schools in the metro make improvements.
MAPS for Kids was a good approach where a number of stakeholders were convened to bolster education in OKC.
But that particular vision “has run its course,” he said.
“It’s really time for us to rally around something. And I think the mayor is uniquely positioned to conduct that conversation that brings us to something that is very tangible.”
Holt talked about the need to develop a new dream that will incorporate many different parties in the city to improve education.
“Just because cities don’t run school districts doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t care about it,” Holt said. “A mayor needs to worry about the greatest challenges to the city.”