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State Senator David Holt received the majority of votes in the Oklahoma City mayoral primary Tuesday which gave him the win without a runoff.

At his watch party early in the evening, Free Press visited with three supporters and then Holt.

We asked one question of the supporters: What qualifies David Holt to be the next mayor more than anything else?

Separate from each other, they all came up with a variation of the same answer.

It was his experience that impressed them the most.

That’s unusual considering that when Holt is sworn in April 10 he will be the second youngest mayor ever in Oklahoma City’s history.

One has to go all the way back to 1923 to find one younger when A.O. Cargill became mayor at 38, only one year younger than Holt will be in April.

Experience

Southside political activist and union official Arturo Delgado mentioned experience.

“I know that he has been shadowing [Mayor] Cornett for several years so he has the knowledge and experience on the job almost,” said Delgado. “He knows the ins and outs.”

Eastside native Joe Clytus has served on many commissions and boards over the years in Oklahoma City.

Experience was the first word that came to his mind, too.

Holt watch party Erika Lucas
Erika Lucas came to the watch party and named Holt’s experience and passion for the city as his strong points. (Brett Dickerson)

“There is no better place to learn than at the foot of a former mayor, who has been good as well,” Clytus said referring to outgoing 14-year Mayor Mick Cornett who is running for governor.

“That’s something that others don’t usually have. It’s an oddity for a person to arrive at that position without going through city council and all that.”

Southside resident Erika Lucas talked about his experience working for Cornett for five years as chief of staff.

But his passion for the city is what drew Lucas to support Holt the most.

“I really do believe that David is in it because he loves the city. You don’t see that often anymore.”

Holt’s comments

When we interviewed Holt, it was his experience that he continued to return to as an asset.

He pointed to his “unique combination of youth and experience,” as his greatest strength going into the office.

Holt said that his youth was “combined with more experience than anybody’s ever had coming into this job.”

He worked on the White House staff of President George Bush (43) for two years and then Senator James Inhofe and Lt. Governor Mary Fallin. Then he was chief of staff for Mayor Cornett for five years.

All of that came before he ran for and won the Senate District 30 seat in 2010 which he still holds.

Unity goal

Holt campaigned on the unity that he wanted to bring to the city recognizing all parts of the city and all residents.

“It’s pretty apparent when in the leadership rooms of our city that the whole city does not necessarily have a seat at the table,” said Holt. “I want to change that.”

When talking to the Capitol Hill Civic Group earlier in his campaign he said, “I don’t want to be just the mayor of downtown, I want to be the mayor of the whole city.”

He said that a quiet influence the mayor has in Oklahoma City’s weak-mayor system is in appointing people to the many volunteer commissions and committees that are crucial to the operation of the city.

“There are upward of a thousand appointments that the mayor makes,” said Holt. “Not everybody wants to do those jobs, but they are important to the life of the city.”

He said one of the biggest issues for the city is education, “but statutorily, there is nothing that I can do directly about that.”

His children both are in Oklahoma City Public Schools and go to Quail Creek Elementary.

So, he is not willing to just wash his hands of the issues that face the district.

“I need to do something tangible and real, and I don’t know what that looks like right now, but I think it starts with having conversations and building relationships,” said Holt.

Holt at the watch party
David Holt greets one of the many well-wishers who came to the watch party. (Brett Dickerson)
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