Nine people have filed to run for the OKC City Council Ward 1 seat in 2021, accounting for almost half of all candidates running for the four seats up for election in February. Several candidates registered in the final hours before the filing window closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
In Ward 7, meanwhile, incumbent Councilwoman Nikki Nice, who beat seven other candidates to win her seat in a 2018 special election, will sail into her second term unopposed.
The other incumbent on the ballot, Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone, faces two challengers. The other seat scheduled to have an election early next year, Ward 3, has six registered candidates.
City Council elections are nonpartisan, and the primary election is scheduled for Feb. 9. If no one candidate wins more than 50 percent of votes cast for a seat, the two candidates with the most votes will compete in the general election on April 6.
OKC City Council members serve four-year terms, and there are no term limits. They are paid $12,000 annually.
The following information about the candidates is taken from publicly available online sources. Candidates are listed alphabetically. A full list of all municipal candidates in Oklahoma County can be viewed here.
James Greiner, who was first elected to represent Ward 1 in 2013, announced in January that he would not be seeking a third term.
“Now, as 2020 begins I believe that God has a new plan for me, which is why I won’t be seeking re-election next year,” he said in a statement. “I don’t know exactly what that plan looks like, but I plan to be open and receptive to what He has in store for me.”
Nine people have registered to run for the vacant seat, making it the most crowded OKC City Council race for 2021. The candidates are:
- Richard Thomas Buchanan, 63. Buchanan does not appear to have a campaign website or other information available online.
- Bradley Carter, 41. Carter is a veteran of the U.S. Army and mentions on his Facebook page that he recovered from an opioid addiction that he developed in the military.
- Nana Abram Dankwa, 39. Dankwa is an attorney who currently works for Citibank. He is an Oklahoma City native whose parents immigrated from Ghana, according to his campaign website.
- Joshua W. Debolt, 37. According to his campaign website, Debolt worked in law enforcement for 22 years and is the cofounder of Sociallutions Media Group.
- Bill Fleming, 76. Fleming does not appear to have a campaign website or other information available online.
- Susan Kay Parisi, 69. Parisi does not appear to have a campaign website or other information available online.
- Megan Scott, 36. Scott has a background in public health and nonprofits and now works in the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, according to her campaign website.
- Jay Sherrill, 40. Sherrill has spent his career at Quest Diagnostics, according to his LinkedIn page. He has served on the Putnam City Schools Board of Education since 2015.
- Shay Varnell, 45. Varnell is a co-owner of Linsenmeyer Bogie and Varnell Insurance Agency. He also serves on the OKC Traffic and Transportation Commission.
Ward 3 is currently represented by OKC’s longest-serving council member, Councilman Larry McAtee, who has held the seat since 2001 and is not seeking re-election.
Six candidates have registered to run for the southwest OKC seat:
- Trey Bishop, 45. Bishop’s campaign Facebook page does not provide background information on the candidate.
- Tim Long, 54. Long does not appear to have a campaign website or other information available online.
- Jessica Martinez-Brooks, 43. Martinez-Brooks has a background in higher education, having worked in the diversity programs at OCCC and OU. In 2018, OKC Mayor David Holt appointed her to the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust.
- Kelli Payne, 44. Payne is the president of the Oklahoma National Stockyards. She does not appear to have a campaign website.
- Allen Swanda, 60. Swanda is a retired U.S. Army officer who has also worked as an oil-and-gas consultant, according to his campaign website.
- Barbara Young, 45. Young’s campaign website says she is a merchandising manager for Love’s, where she has worked since 2005.
Three candidates are running for Ward 4 incumbent.
- Sam Wargin Grimaldo, 33. Grimaldo is a second-year law student at OU who previously worked as a teacher in Oklahoma City Public Schools.
- Larry Hopper, 63. Hopper spent more than 20 years as a city planner for OKC, according to his LinkedIn page, and was the principal planner for EMBARK. He does not appear to have a campaign website.
- Todd Stone, 57, incumbent. Stone is running for his second term in the office. He is the owner of the homebuilding company Dub Stone Construction, which was started by his father in 1959.
Councilwoman Nikki Nice, 40, will run unopposed for her second term on the City Council. She came into office in a special election in 2018, winning more than 70 percent of the vote in the general election and beating seven other candidates for the seat.
(Update: This article was updated at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, to include additional links to candidate websites.)