Ward 7
Oklahoma City's Ward 7 is the largest City Council ward in the municipality. (Screenshot)

Oklahoma City’s Ward 7 City Council seat was vacated when former council member John Pettis Jr.’s resignation became effective May 31. Following a year-long investigation, Pettis resigned amid three charges of embezzlement as well as one charge of intentionally failing to file state income tax returns.

On June 5, Ward 7 Planning Commissioner Lee E. Cooper Jr. was appointed by the remaining council members as the interim representative for Ward 7. A week later, eight candidates would file in a bid to replace Pettis. Voters in Ward 7 will potentially decide on Tuesday who will represent them until the current four-year term ends in April 2021.

If any of the eight nonpartisan candidates manages to secure a majority of the votes on Tuesday, he or she will become the Ward 7 council member-elect. Failing that, the two candidates with the most votes will meet in a runoff election to be decided on the Nov. 6 ballot for voters in Ward 7.

The following profiles of each candidate have been compiled using public-facing sources and are presented in alphabetical order. For those seeking statements straight from the candidates, this video of a Ward 7 forum from Aug. 14 provides further information.

OKC Ward 7
Ward 7 (Screenshot)

Ed Alexander, 71


Profession: Retired; former manager for General Motors
Experience: Decades of managerial experience for various companies
Platform: Increasing classroom safety, reducing utility costs for the elderly, increasing neighborhood safety and encouraging the City of OKC to buy American-made products all feature prominently on Alexander’s Priorities page.
Links: Website

Lisa Butler, 36


Profession: Mother
Experience: Former chairwoman of the City of Del City’s Board of Adjustments as well as a former member of Del City’s Parks and Recreation Commission
Platform: Using #EveryoneDeservesAButler as a campaign slogan, Lisa Butler stated Aug. 9 on her Facebook page that she intends “to make ward 7 great by having a Butler to serve you!”
Links: Facebook

Chris Harrison, 43


Profession: Owner of a funeral home
Experience: Served almost 15 years on the Millwood Public Schools Board of Education; currently serves on the Board of Directors for Woven Life and Sunbeam Family Services
Platform: According to Harrison’s The Issues page, economic development, neighborhood safety, strengthening public services and engaging directly with OKC Public Schools rank highly among the Ward 7 native’s priorities.
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Leslie Johnson III, 41


Profession: Art teacher
Experience: Twenty years of advocacy work with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Oklahoma City Public Schools and Speck Homes
Platform: According to Johnson’s About page, he seeks to promote businesses, increase engagement between the City of OKC and Ward 7’s schools, and strengthen neighborhoods.
Links: Website | Facebook

Nikki Nice, 37


Profession: Radio host on KRMP 92.1
Experience: Volunteers with the Northeast Academy PTA, reads to local youth and serves on “numerous boards and committees,” according to her Meet Nikki page
Platform: According to a campaign ad on her Facebook page, Nice’s priorities include attracting large employers, improving Ward 7 neighborhoods and increasing before- and after-school services.
Links: Website | Facebook

Kirk Pankratz, 59


Profession: Former pastor and businessman
Experience: Founded Youth America, a Christian-focused summer camp and youth-oriented ministry
Platform: On his Priorities page, economic development, strategic school partnerships and “changing the narrative” about northeast OKC feature prominently.
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

John Pettis Sr., 67


Profession: Retired
Experience: Former mayor of El Reno, Oklahoma; father of former Ward 7 council member John Pettis Jr.
Platform: During the Aug. 14 Ward 7 forum, Pettis Sr. said he favors shutting down a recycling plant located in the JFK area until its practices come in compliance with ordinances against noise and pollution.
Links: n/a

Margaret Walsh, 65


Profession: OGE Energy employee
Experience: n/a
Platform: Walsh is effectively on the ballot in name only, as she told The Oklahoma Gazette in an interview published July 13 that voters should not vote for her.
Links: n/a