Oklahoma City Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner’s decision not to run for another term has created plenty of interest from prospective candidates. The Feb. 9 primary election for the seat is now a logjam, with nine candidates registered to run.
Greiner, who has held the seat for eight years, announced his decision at the beginning of 2020.
“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.”
Three OKC seats — in Wards 1, 3 and 4 — are up for grabs in this election cycle. In Ward 7, Councilwoman Nikki Nice is running unopposed for re-election. OKC City Council races are non-partisan. If no single candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes cast in the Feb. 9 primary, the two candidates who received the most votes will proceed to the general election, scheduled for April 6.
Ward 1 covers much of western Oklahoma City, including the area from Lake Overholser to the south and stretching up to Piedmont.
Below is a look at those vying for the OKC Ward 1 seat. All the following information has been collected from publicly available sources.
Profession/background: Carter and his wife operate a coffee business and are active in church ministry. Carter also served in the Army and overcame an opioid addiction he developed after sustaining injuries in a car accident.
Platform: One of Carter’s main priorities is improving the city’s infrastructure, which he said is necessary to cope with long-term growth. Another of his goals is to make sure the city is doing its part to help sustain small businesses by developing clearer, more streamlined regulations. Carter also believes the city needs to proactively look for and attract new industries.
Profession/background: Dankwa is an attorney working as a regulatory officer for Citibank. He previously did similar work for MidFirst. His parents immigrated to the United States from Ghana in the late 1970s, and Dankwa was born in OKC in 1981. He attended Putnam City Schools, majored in political science at the University of Central Oklahoma and earned his law degree from Oklahoma City University in 2017. Before law school, he worked as a surgical technician at the Dean McGee Eye Institute.
Platform: Dankwa believes better coordination with communities would improve the city’s police and fire departments while also reducing crime. Dankwa supports continued efforts at making Oklahoma City more walkable, which he has said will make residents healthier. He also wants to further develop the overall appearance of the city’s public, commercial, and residential areas. He promises to support ordinances that target unsightly graffiti, litter and vacant and abandoned buildings, according to his campaign website.
Profession/background: Debolt co-founded Sociallutions Media Group with his brother in 2013, which bills itself as a social-media-focused marketing agency and production house. The company’s website lists Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson’s successful 2020 campaign as one of its clients.
Platform: Some of Debolt’s platform issues are not under the OKC City Council’s purview, including health care for veterans, public education and the Second Amendment. However, he does oppose future shutdowns for COVID-19 and believes the city’s infrastructure is in need of improvement to keep up with other communities and reduce the risk of potential lawsuits resulting from accidents related to poor infrastructure. Debolt also opposes any efforts to reduce police budgets.
Profession/background: Fleming is the former owner of Fleming Ford. He has also worked in the construction business and started Healthy Living and Fitness, Inc., a non-profit that serves one of the city’s MAPS 3-funded senior wellness centers. Fleming and his wife have been married for 56 years and are active members of Putnam City Baptist Church.
Platform: Fleming said among his biggest priorities is raising awareness among citizens by working as an intermediary between the people and the council. He also wants to boost the city’s infrastructure as a way to attract industry. Fleming will fight against “unnecessary taxes” while also working to improve road and bridge conditions throughout the city, according to his website.
Profession/background: Parisi served in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years and achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. She also served 10 years in the Oklahoma National Guard as an occupational safety and health nurse.
Platform: Among Parisi’s biggest priorities is addressing food insecurity in Oklahoma City by improving resources to combat unemployment. She says she also wants to improve access to mental health care and drug treatment programs. Prioritizing funding for law enforcement and the fire department is another key platform for Parisi, who also favors the creation of a domestic violence alert system.
Profession/background: Scott has a background in public health and nonprofits and now works in the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, according to her campaign website. Scott was born and raised in Paraguay, where her parents served as missionaries. She later moved to Shawnee where she attended high school and Oklahoma Baptist University.
Platform: Among Scott’s biggest priorities would be to improve public transportation throughout the city, with particular focus on the bus system. She says MAPS 4 is a good start, but believes greater investment in mental health, preventing homelessness and criminal justice reform are also necessary. Scott would also like to make the city more accessible and inclusive. She says older and disabled residents should be involved in planning and decision making.
Profession/background: Sherrill serves on the Putnam City Schools Board of Education, and he works on the national leadership team for Quest Diagnostics. He has also been endorsed by former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, according to his website.
Platform: If elected, Sherrill says he would focus on improving city streets, including traffic flow and fixing potholes. He would also like to see the emergency response time for police and fire departments improve. He would also work to ensure the promises of MAPS 3 and MAPS 4 are fulfilled. Sherrill is in favor of increasing entrepreneurship to reduce the city’s reliance on the oil and gas industry, according to his website.
Profession/background: Varnell is a co-owner of Linsenmeyer Bogie and Varnell Insurance Agency. He also serves on the OKC Traffic and Transportation Commission.
Platform: Among Varnell’s top priorities would be ensuring the city’s police and fire departments have the funding they need. Like other candidates, Varnell wants to fill potholes and improve roads, but he also would like to see some roads re-designed to improve safety. A proponent of the city’s parks, he says he would work to make sure they are adequately funded.
Buchanan does not appear to have a campaign website or other information available online.