For as much as we like to complain about politics in Oklahoma, people just don’t like to turn up to vote. Hell, the midterms last November saw the biggest bump since 1986, and only 56% of registered voters actually showed up.
It’s a process that normally leaves me feeling (even more) cynical and angry about our local politics, because most of the people who show up to their local church on those fateful Tuesdays are old people who are ready to shuffle out of this world without understanding the place they’re leaving behind.
Last night, we had a series of elections for city council, bond issues, mayor, and other things that matter on a hyper-local level. And in some instances, the youth won. Who woulda thought? Here are some of the highlights:
1. James Cooper Wins Ward 2
I may be incredibly biased here, as James is one of my most dear friends. I met him in high school when he worked at Blockbuster Video with one of my other most dear friends. We’ve spent countless hours talking about shitty horror movies, politics and social issues, relationships, all that stuff that you do as good buds. And now, he’s representing my city.
All that aside, it’s historic because he’s openly gay and African-American, which constitutes two identities that are rarely represented in local politics. And he was able to get the win without a run-off in a ward that is dense with a diverse population. His policies, although echoed by several candidates throughout the city, are centered around improving public infrastructure by making things like transit and sidewalks nice enough to where they are practical enough that residents can move on from the ‘Why walk when you can drive?’ lifestyle that has crippled huge segments of the city where walking isn’t even an option. Hopefully, his time spent on the transit board will enable his ideas to come to fruition.
2. JoBeth Hammon Wins Ward 6
Another young’n, JoBeth also ran on a platform of connectivity, and was able to defeat a guy who ran under a sorta similar message but with a lot more money. JoBeth was out on the streets knocking doors, and her main competitor was Nathaniel Harding, an O&G bro who raised nearly $150k in donations.
I live in Ward 6, and the best way to compare how they ran their campaigns is this: JoBeth knocked the door to my apartment when we weren’t home and left a personalized and handwritten note. Amidst the barrage of flyers we got in the mail in the final days leading up to this election, this showed up in the mailbox last week:
That’s right, a postmarked and printed card. He pretended like he knocked my door, but obviously didn’t bother. A friend of mine who is registered Republican said that Nathaniel did knock his door, however. Makes sense, considering this telling endorsement:
Tuesday's election in OKC is CRITICAL for the future of OKC City Council. Don't let AOC/Bernie Sanders' group take over our great City. Each race has only 1 Republican running, VOTE TUESDAY and share the word. pic.twitter.com/w8VVQvb1tg
— OK Republican Party (@officialOKGOP) February 9, 2019
3. Mark Stonecipher & David Greenwell
The two incumbents from Ward 8 and Ward 5 both easily won reelection, helping insure white men who look like bankers still have a voice at city hall.
4. The Dead Edmond Mayor Still Has A Shot
Charles Lamb, the former (and kinda still?) incumbent mayor of Edmond passed away at the end of last year, after filing for re-election. He was still able to win enough votes to take things to a run-off in April. What makes all of this even more bizarre is that there was a huge push from a local businesswoman for Edmondites to vote for the dead guy so that somebody who didn’t even run could win.
Now a Facebook group, called VoteForCharles, is encouraging Edmond voters to do just that. The woman behind the move is Edmond business owner Michelle Schaefer.
“If we elect Mayor Lamb, then the city council can appoint somebody who shares his vision,” Schaefer said.
In fact, she has someone in mind.
“Our current city councilman, Nick Massey. I would hope they would appoint him.”
Massey’s not shy about the fact that he wants the position.
“There are a lot of people, including myself, who probably would have filed for to run for mayor,” Massey said, “but out of respect for Charles, we certainly weren’t going to file. Some people feel that the election might have gone completely different if people could have filed.”
The council would be allowed to appoint anyone to the seat, but Massey said it would likely be a member of the council.
Edmond is gonna get the politics that it deserves, so I’m gonna stay out of this one.
Wow, what a night. Four Council elections & four final outcomes. The superteam has assembled for the next chapter in our city’s journey. Congrats & welcome to @JamesForOKC, @jospacebear, @mstonecipher13 & @GreenwellOKC! Let’s get to work! #1OKC pic.twitter.com/lrGT4DXJq9
— Mayor David Holt (@davidfholt) February 13, 2019
5. David Holt is a good politician
Something tells me the guy had 500 tweets that covered all the different election scenarios drafted and ready to go.
Anyways, there are obviously many more elections that we don’t have the space to cover here, and they also don’t take place in my bubble, and I’m also not a real journalist, so that’s about it. Feel free to vent down below about whatever happened in your ward last night!