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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) – Even though the official filing period isn’t until December, several candidates have already begun to announce their candidacy for the four Oklahoma City Council seats up for election February14, 2023. 

The voters in wards 2, 5, 6, and 8 will elect a new council member to represent them in the upcoming City of Oklahoma City Council elections. So far, six candidates have announced plans to run.

Ward 2 

Incumbent James Cooper has announced that he will be seeking a second term on the OKC council to represent north-central Ward 2. As of now, Cooper faces no opposition for the seat but is using the long daylight hours of summer to knock doors in the ward. 

Ward 2 covers the Paseo Arts District, Uptown 23rd, and the near northwest part of the city south of Lake Hefner.

James Cooper, Ward 2 councilman, running for re-election. (file, BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Describing himself as a lifelong Oklahoman and community leader, Cooper currently teaches Film Studies and Philosophy as an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University. He serves as a trustee on OKC’s Central Transportation and Parking Authority, which oversees EMBARK, downtown off-street parking, and Oklahoma river cruises. 

With a second term, Cooper plans to continue to focus on several issues such as:

  • Implementing reliable public transportation with MAPS 4 transit enhancements. 
  • Improving neighborhood infrastructure and street walkability. 
  • Addressing homelessness and affordable housing.
  • Creating youth centers to address adverse childhood experiences. 

As the first teacher and openly LGBT council member, Cooper hopes to continue to be a voice for the diverse community in his district. 

“As someone who was born and raised in Oklahoma, I’ve just known that diversity of people my entire life,” Cooper said in an interview with the Free Press. “Because of that, though, I know what their priorities are from knocking on doors last time and I know from serving in office, and it is making sure we honor that diversity.”

Ward 5 

In Ward 5, which covers the south central portion of OKC to where OKC meets Moore City limits, Matthew Hinkle announced his plans to run for the Ward 5 seat currently held by David Greenwell since 2011. 

Matthew Hinkle
Matthew Hinkle, OKC Ward 5 Candidate

As of now, Greenwell has not announced his plans.

Hinkle, a businessman and southside OKC resident, has served on the Ward 5 planning commission since 2017 and was honored as the South OKC’s Chambers Citizen of the year for his involvement in the community. 

According to his campaign website,  Hinkle plans to focus on issues including

  • Neighborhood safety. 
  • Support for first responders and law enforcement.
  • Strengthening the economy. 

Hinkle did not respond to interview requests in time for publication. 

Thuan Nguyen, business owner and community leader, announced his candidacy for the Ward 5 seat in March. If elected, Nyugen would be the first Asian-American councilmember in OKC’s history.

On his campaign website, Nguyen states that his passion for preserving OKC’s Asian cultures led him to establish the Asian District Cultural Association and Asian Chamber of Oklahoma. He’s served on various boards in the community including:

  • Human Rights Task Force
  •  MAPS 4 Citizens Advisory Subcommittee on Connectivity
  • Urban Design Commissioner. 
Than Nguyen
Thuan Nguyen, OKC Ward 5 candidate

According to his campaign website, Nyugen’s plans to prioritize issues such as:

  • Improving infrastructure 
  • Protecting first responders budgets 
  • Improving sidewalks and neighborhood walkability under MAPS 4
  • Investments in affordable housing and mental health services
  • Preserving Asian cultures 

Especially in the area of infrastructure, sidewalks and rapid transit are high on his list of priorities.

“Despite strong growth with MAPS4, Ward 5’s streets and sidewalks are still in subpar condition and public transportation seems to be near non-existent in our ward,” said Nguyen in a news release in March. “As your councilman, I pledge to bring EMBARK Bus RAPID Transit (BRT) to Ward 5 and create plans that ensure long term sustainability of our streets and sidewalks.”

Nguyen did not respond to an interview request in time for publication.

Ward 6

Incumbent JoBeth Hamon has already announced her plans to run for a 2nd term to represent Ward 6 on the City Council and has started knocking doors in the ward.

JoBeth Hamon
JoBeth Hamon, Ward 6 City Councilwoman, running for re-election (file, BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Hamon, who grew up in Washington State and Oregon, moved to Oklahoma to attend Oklahoma Baptist University where she received her degree in Family and Community services in 2012. Hamon relies on only her bike and the city’s EMBARK bus system to navigate the city. 

According to her campaign website, Hamon said she will continue to address several issues including:

  • Investments in public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian improvements under MAPS 4
  • Mental health services and suicide prevention programs 
  • Affordable housing and homelessness services 
  • Improve public and neighborhood safety

In an interview with the Free Press, Hamon expressed how important it is for her to be available and informed about what issues matter most to the residents in Ward 6.

“It’s just nice to be able to get to hear about what different people are doing in different corners of the Ward,” Hamon said. “Even if it’s just for a cup of coffee and a conversation to see how I can be an advocate for the issues that they care about.”

Marek Cornett, daughter-in-law of former OKC Mayor Mick Cornett, has also entered the race for Ward 6. 

 Cornett currently serves on the OKC traffic and transportation commission, which gave her an understanding of the city’s need for street and infrastructure improvements.

Marek Cornett
Marek Cornett

“I think there’s a lot of room for improvement for traffic and transportation situations that are specific to Ward 6 because it is such a core of our city with a lot of people coming in and out of it everyday,” Cornett said in an interview with the Free Press. “So that’s definitely one of my main focuses.” 

If elected, Cornett said she would focus on other issues in her ward such as:

  • Improving mental health and substance abuse services
  • Addressing homelessness and providing affordable housing options
  • Support for first responders and public safety 

“I think a lot of my neighbors feel like they’re completely disconnected from the core of our city, even though they are less than a mile away,” Cornett told us. “And it would be a huge honor to be able to kind of bring them into the fold and make sure that they have representation.” 

Jane Jenkins
Jane Jenkins

Jane Jenkins, CEO and President of Downtown OKC Partnership, is the latest candidate to announce for the Ward 6 seat. As of now, there is no website posted for her campaign. 

Jenkins did not respond to an interview request with the Free Press in time for publication. 

Oklahoma holds non-partisan City Council elections. The primary election date is February 14, 2023. The filing period for the upcoming election is held for three days on December 5, 6, and 7, 2022. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff election will take place April 4, 2023. 

Last Updated June 15, 2022, 11:17 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor