OKC Ward 2 City Councilman James Cooper, OKC Ward 8 City Councilman Mark Stonecipher
Ward 2 incumbent Councilman James Cooper and Ward 8 incumbent Councilman Mark Stonecipher won new terms on the OKC City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (NonDoc)

Incumbent OKC City Council members in Ward 2 and Ward 8 each turned back a pair of challengers to win reelection Tuesday.

OKC Ward 2 City Councilman James Cooper breezed to reelection, receiving 3,486 votes, or 76.8 percent, to win a second four-year term on the council. Weston Storey won 756 voters, or 16.7 percent. Alex DeShazo garnered 294 voters, or 6.5 percent.

In Ward 8, OKC Councilman Mark Stonecipher had a tighter race, garnering 2,672 votes, or 53.1 percent, to secure a third term. Amy Warne received 1,869 votes, or 37.2 percent. Frank Urbanic finished a distant third with 489 votes, or 9.7 percent

Turnout was low across Oklahoma City on Tuesday, which also was Valentine’s Day. In Ward 2, only 4,536 people cast a ballot and in Ward 8 unofficial results showed 5,030 people turned out to vote.

All election results listed on the Oklahoma State Election Board website are unofficial until they are certified by the board.

Mark Stonecipher slated for third term

Ward 8 stretches across much of northwest Oklahoma City, including the Putnam City Schools District and the Memorial Road-Quail Springs Mall area where several companies have corporate headquarters.

Stonecipher called being a member of the City Council one of the highlights of his life. He said giving back to a city that has provided for him is among the biggest reasons he decided to run for another term.

Stonecipher, a shareholder at the law firm Fellers Snider, said he would focus on public safety during his next term. In November, he was one of three council members to introduce and then withdraw a controversial proposal involving the criminalization of homelessness.

He said the city is on the right track when it comes to police and fire resources thanks to past initiatives, though that effort is ongoing.

Of the most pressing issues facing the city beyond public safety, Stonecipher said keeping partisan politics out of city government and community dialogue is as critical to the city’s future as it was in its past.

Stonecipher said he favors a public-private partnership for a new facility for the OKC Thunder, owing to the success of the publicly financed Paycom Center, which helped the city secure an NBA team.

James Cooper easily wins reelection

Cooper was expected to win his second term representing Ward 2, as DeShazo, 22, and Storey, the owner of an OKC-based pest-control company, ran low-key campaigns.

Cooper, 40, was first elected to the OKC City Council in 2019. He has taught at several schools and colleges, including Oklahoma City University.

“It’s an honor, Ward 2,” Cooper said Tuesday night. “It’s time we act like America’s 20th-largest city and build infrastructure serving all of us. Our office remains open to everyone who wants to discuss neighborhood needs, help us heal from this historic pandemic, and create a better environment for our city’s children.”

While in office, Cooper has worked to reestablish the city’s Human Rights Commission and to improve bus transportation throughout the city. He has said his experiences as a teacher and earlier as a student have guided him in his approach to city government.

Ward 2 includes Uptown, Jefferson Park and the historic Britton District within its borders. It is also home to some of the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.

Cooper has said making sure MAPS 4 and Better Streets projects are executed are among the most pressing issues facing Ward 2 and the rest of the city. He said the city also needs to continue to reduce its homeless population and develop more affordable housing. He called those two issues OKC’s “existential need.”

Cooper said incentivizing the revitalization of dilapidated historical buildings into mixed-use housing developments and community cultural centers would be one way to add housing.

Cooper has said he doesn’t oppose public money for infrastructure projects like a new arena for the Thunder but he would like to see the team pick up its share of the expense. Moreover, he’d like a new arena to create jobs for those who need them most.

The OKC Ward 2 race pretty much played out before any ballot was cast.

In December, Cooper challenged the residency of potential opponent Chris Cowden on grounds that Cowden had not been a registered voter and resident at his present address for the one-year timeframe required by the city charter.

Cowden was struck from the ballot on Dec. 13 by the Oklahoma County Election Board, and he appealed to have his case heard before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. After a referee hearing last month, the court ultimately declined to hear his case, meaning the election board’s decision to strike Cowden from the ballot stood.

That decision more or less cleared the field for Cooper with his opponents reduced to DeShazo and Story who pursued limited campaigns.