Nov. 9 election
Frozen temperatures and slick roads likely made voter turnout a little lower than it otherwise would have been Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Election officials hope for better weather during local Nov. 9 elections. (Angela Anne Jones)

Oklahoma voters heading to the polls for the Nov. 9 election will consider an array of local issues that directly impact their communities. Some residents will determine whether the price tag of a new hospital is worth it, while others will decide if a waste water treatment system nearing its 100th birthday has seen its last flush.

One week prior to the Nov. 9 election, here is a brief rundown of selected questions and proposals that will appear on the ballot in some of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. For a full list of all elections being held, visit the Oklahoma State Election Board.

Canadian County

The Ward 2 seat on the El Reno City Council will be up for grabs as incumbent Bob Ballhorn faces challenger Peter Stapperfend. Ward 2 is in the northwest section of the city of about 20,000. Ballhorn is a field inspector for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and owns a bail bond business. He is also the city’s vice mayor. Stapperfend is a retired mechanical engineer and is making his first run for elected office. Stapperfend told the El Reno Tribune one reason he decided to run was to expand senior activities in the city, saying his community has become stagnant in recent years. For his part, Ballhorn said he decided to run again to build on the things he has helped accomplish, including the St. Anthony Healthplex and drainage improvements in the city. 

Cleveland County

Voters in Moore will vote on two proposals. The first would provide funding for street improvements in parts of the city, including $1.2 million for upgrades to arterial streets. A further $7.4 million would be spent on residential street construction. A second project would provide funding for the construction of a new city animal shelter on 1.6 acres of land already owned by the city. That project is estimated to cost about $8 million. 

Coal County

Residents in southeast Oklahoma’s Coal County will decide the fate of a proposed $20.7 million hospital construction and renovation of the county’s nursing home. The 20-bed hospital and nursing home are the largest employers in the county, with more than 150 jobs between them. Opened in 1952, Coal County General Hospital — also called Mary Hurley Hospital — is a nonprofit health system that operates the only hospital in the county.

Created in 2013, the Coal County Healthcare Authority governs the Coal County General Hospital Holding Company, Coal County General Hospital, Inc. (the nonprofit entity) and Coal County Extended Care, Inc. (which operates the nursing home).

The construction and renovation projects would be financed by bonds backed by property taxes. The hospital’s Facebook page outlined the details in a post Nov. 1:

Comanche County

Mark Malone and Kelly Harris will face each other in a runoff for the Lawton City Council Ward 2 seat. Neither candidate surpassed the 50 percent threshold required for election in the primary earlier this year. Malone has vowed to give all pay he receives as a city council member to civic organizations and has said that, if elected, he would work to improve the city’s streets and bulk trash pickup. Harris has said the city is in need of modernization in a number of areas, including its traffic signals, the city website and how city government conducts business. Ward 2 is in the north section of Lawton, a city of about 90,000 in southwest Oklahoma. 

Custer County

Ward 3 residents in Clinton will decide who will sit on the City Council when they go to the polls. Incumbent Patch McComas is facing challenger Samantha Jo Aispuro. 

Garvin County

Elmore City will hold a special election to fill the office of county clerk-treasurer, according to a report in the Garvin County News Star. Julie Christian and Stephanie Upshaw will be on the ballot. 

Hughes County

Four candidates are competing for the county commission seat vacated by Tommy Peak, who died in August after being hospitalized with COVID-19. Bill Spray, Jim Lively, Josh Tatum and Dale Stringer are on the Nov. 9 ballot. 

Noble County

Republican Nick Hughes, Democrat Ernest Moore, Jr. and independent Randy Stephens will face off in the Noble County Commissioner District 3 race. Hughes said on Facebook that, if elected, he will work to increase communication between county government and residents through social media. He also wants to implement better road maintenance and construction practices.  Stephens is a Perry resident and works as an equipment operator for Noble County. He said on Facebook that he is the most experienced candidate in the race, thanks to his long-term employment with the county. Moore has a personal Facebook page but does not appear to use it to discuss the election.

Oklahoma County

Residents in Luther will decide whether that city’s town clerk position will be an elected or appointed position. Currently, the town clerk position is appointed by the City Council.

In Spencer, Lisa Janloo and Charmin Williams are running for the Ward 4 seat on the City Council. Janloo said on her Facebook page that, if elected, she would work to improve infrastructure and develop ways to attract new businesses to the city. Williams said on Facebook that she would bring positive leadership to the council and work to improve the city’s growth. 

Okmulgee County

Republican Kathy George-Spears and Democrat Dan Artussee are running in a special election to determine who will be the Okmulgee County District 3 commissioner. The seat opened up with the resignation of James Connors earlier this year. Connors had held the seat for more than 20 years. George-Spears is a farmer and rancher who said she will work to improve the county’s infrastructure, including roads. Artussee is an Okmulgee County employee, and he said his experience in that capacity has given him a unique insight into problem-solving for the area.

Osage County

Residents of Shidler will vote to determine if the city clerk will be appointed by the city council. Shidler is a town of about 440 people in northwest Osage County. 

Ottawa County

Fairland voters will elect a new member to the town’s board of trustees. Jack Crossley and Nick Bowers are running. Bowers is a small-business owner. Crossley owns a towing company based in Fairland. Neither candidate has an online campaign presence. The seat Crossley and Bowers are running for is currently vacant. 

Pittsburg County

Residents of McAlester, in southeastern Oklahoma, will vote on two propositions regarding a planned overhaul of the city’s water system. In the first proposition, residents will decide if the city will incur $32.5 million in debt, financed over 30 years, to pay for a new water system for the city of about 18,000 residents. The second proposition asks residents to pay for the system with a quarter-cent sales tax increase. If voters elect to vote down the sales tax increase, the project will be paid for from increased water bills, according to the McAlester News-Capital.

Seminole County

Voters in the city of Seminole will go to the polls to decide if the city will build a new wastewater treatment plant. Seminole is the county seat of Seminole County and home to about 7,500 residents. The current treatment facility is nearly 100 years old. 

Washington County

Eric Mumma and Jeffery Roe are seeking the town of Copan’s Board of Trustees Office 5 seat. Mumma is currently employed as a heavy-equipment operator with the City of Bartlesville. Roe is a farmer and rancher in Washington County. The Board of Trustees oversees government policy in Copan, a town of about 700 in northeastern Oklahoma. 

Franchise elections

Voters in the town of Erik, in Beckham County, and Hydro, in Caddo County, will go to the polls to vote on continuing franchise agreements with Public Service Company of Oklahoma. Franchise agreements are between the city or municipality and a utility provider and are typically renewed every five to 20 years, depending on the agreement. PSO serves about 560,000 customers in the state, primarily in northeastern Oklahoma, according to its website.

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