Ward 6 incumbent Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon managed to weather a wave of campaign cash from challenger Marek Cornett along with dark money group spending to win reelection to another four-year term on the OKC City Council on Tuesday night.
With all 34 precincts reporting, Hamon finished with 54.45 percent of the vote to 45.55 for Cornett, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board. Only 2,968 people voted in the heated contest.
All election results listed on the Oklahoma State Election Board website are unofficial until they are certified by the board.
The Ward 6 race was expected to be among the most competitive in this year’s municipal election cycle, and it proved to be just that with both campaigns scrapping until election day to get their message out and voters to the polls.
Hamon, 32, was elected to represent Ward 6 in 2019 and has emphasized the need for pedestrian infrastructure, affordable housing and police accountability during her first term in office. She works for a nonprofit that focuses on mental health.
Located between Northwest 23rd Street and stretching as far south as Southwest 59th Street, Ward 6 extends from Portland Avenue to the west to Shields Avenue on its eastern border. It also includes Automobile Alley and Film Row within its boundaries.
A contrast in ideologies
In many ways, the Hamon and Cornett matchup was a campaign of contrasting ideologies, with Hamon being what a progressive candidate on the council when it comes to issues like homelessness, public transit and public safety. Cornett billed herself as a pro-economic development, pro-police candidate, and she was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 123.
In a debate hosted by NonDoc on Feb. 8, Cornett pushed back on the idea that she was a tool of establishment city politics.
“It is laughable when people say that I will be an empty suit,” Cornett said. “I am far from it. I definitely have my values. I definitely have my own way of doing things. I do not by any means subscribe to any single person or any single organization who has supported me in the past. I do not believe that the City Council should obstruct economic development, especially when we have an economic development fund.”
During the debate, Hamon addressed her relationship with the police department and its union over public safety issues. When asked about finding common ground with the union moving forward, she said that was unlikely.
“With the Fraternal Order of the Police, if we’re going to talk about negotiating with extremists or not wanting to, they are one of the most extreme groups in our country,” Hamon said during the debate. “They have some of the most power to wield in this country, and the things they do with it are to protect bad actors that abuse their power and hurt people in our community. It’s hard for me to imagine finding common ground with folks that say something like, ‘Public safety equals policing,’ because I don’t think a lot of people believe that.”
Cornett raised a lot of money for her bid
Other than Ward 8 incumbent Mark Stonecipher, Cornett raised more than any other candidate running for the OKC City Council, bringing in more than $118,000. Meanwhile, dark money groups spent at least $37,000 attacking Hamon, according to a report in The Oklahoman.
Hamon raised about $58,000 for her re-election bid, according to campaign finance reports.
City councilors make $12,000 per year and serve four-year terms.
Cornett, 39, is the daughter-in-law of former OKC Mayor Mick Cornett. She owns a small business focusing on digital marketing, and she volunteers for several nonprofits.
In a statement to KOCO, Cornett said she was proud of the campaign she ran.
“I ran this campaign to provide a voice for the families of Ward 6 who want solutions for homelessness, better streets and the creation of dense, vibrant neighborhoods. I’m proud of the positive campaign we’ve run — we focused on the issues and our own campaign, not anyone else,” Cornett said. “While I’m disappointed in the results, I can’t thank my family, friends and neighbors enough for their support, and I wish my opponent the best of luck. I won’t stop working to improve OKC.”
Hamon also spoke to KOCO, saying her focus will remain on serving citizens and meeting their needs.
“It’s been exhausting, but the stuff that has kept me going is the texts of encouragement, the donations, the people showing up to volunteer all recognizing it’s not about one person, it’s not about one seat, it’s not about one body of government,” Hamon said. “It’s about people in our community that need people to care about them.”