Three candidates each for Wards 1 and 7 are headed into the home stretch of OKC City Council elections. As usual with municipal elections, however, there may not be much of a crowd to cheer them along the way.
That’s because municipal elections tend to exhibit underwhelming turnouts. As The Atlantic’s CityLab desk reported in 2015, voter turnout for mayoral elections in larger U.S. cities like New York and Los Angeles was only between 20 and 30 percent.
With only about one in five registered voters casting ballots for a city’s mayor, participation drops even further among more specific positions. For example, take a look at the following voter turnout data for some of OKC’s recent city elections:
- 2015, Ward 2: 11 percent
- 2015, Wards 6 and 8: 5.6 percent each
- 2013, Ward 1: 9 percent
Granted, the 2013 number was dampened owing partly to record-setting rainfall for that day, but still: It’s a well-known pattern of behavior.
The pattern indicates that, although these are the elected officials with whom an average, ordinary citizen could have the most influence and personal connection, few actually take advantage of that availability, content instead to have basically anybody representing them and their part of town.
Yet, come Tuesday, the public again retains the right to choose. To exercise your civic muscle more pointedly, inform yourself about Ward 1 and Ward 7 candidates. Two of these people will be making the decisions that affect living conditions in your neighborhood and OKC at large for the next four years. (If you’re unsure about which Ward is yours, take a look at the map here.)
1Ward 1: James Greiner, incumbent
- Profession: Graphics team leader at Hobby Lobby
- Political experience: Current Ward 1 councilmember, elected in 2013
- Platform: Infrastructure concerns (e.g. the expiration of MAPS 3 in December) and public safety (e.g. hiring more cops)
- Links: official Facebook page, campaign website, official councilmember page
2Ward 1: Jonathan Clour
- Profession: Methodist minister and talk-radio host for AM-station KTLV 1220’s Oklahoma Voice program
- Political experience: In 2014, Clour ran as a Republican for the state House of Representatives in District 43 but lost in a runoff to Rep. John Paul Jordan (R-Yukon).
- Platform: In an interview last month, Clour stressed the importance of managing tax dollars “wisely and frugally.”
- Link: Oklahoma Voice YouTube channel
3Ward 1: Chris Gordon
4Ward 7: John A. Pettis Jr., incumbent
- Profession: workforce development consultant for PHA Consulting, long-time community volunteer and advocate
- Political experience: current Ward 7 councilmember, elected in 2013
- Platform: economic development, police accountability and quality-of-life improvements
- Links: official Facebook page, official councilmember page
5Ward 7: T. Sheri Dickerson
6Ward 7: Marina Mangiaracina
- Profession: Student and founder of Welcome to Loud City, a basketball blog dedicated to the OKC Thunder
- Political experience: Comes from a family with a “history of public service“
- Platform: LGBT rights, gun control, prison reform and a host of other issues
- Links: official Facebook page, campaign website