Matt Hinkle edged Thuan Nguyen by just 35 votes in a hotly contested runoff for the OKC Ward 5 seat Tuesday.
Hinkle finished first among four candidates in the Feb. 14 election with 40 percent of the vote, while Nguyen finished with 34 percent. Just 178 votes separated them, but neither candidate hit the 50 percent threshold, which forced Tuesday’s runoff.
That theme would continue in the runoff as the candidates were neck and neck as results came in. With 30 of 30 precincts reporting, Hinkle finished with 1,857 votes (or 50.5 percent) to 1,822 votes (or 49.5 percent) for Nguyen.
“I can’t thank our community enough for their support. I’m committed to standing tall for our values, keeping our community safe, and being a voice for everyone in South OKC,” Hinkle said in a statement texted Tuesday night. “I’m eternally grateful for my family, friends and neighbors — who helped make a dream come true; and if you voted for me or not… I have an open door and I’m ready to get to work for you.”
Runoff elections are often marred by low turnout, but that was not the case in the runoff. In the February primary election, about 3,200 votes were cast. That mark was exceeded in Tuesday’s runoff, with nearly 3,700 votes cast.
All results posted by the Oklahoma State Election Board online are unofficial until they are certified by the board.
Background on OKC Ward 5, Matt Hinkle
A heavily residential area, OKC Ward 5 spans south from Southwest 59th Street, bordering Moore to the east and Newcastle to its southwest. It includes Westmoore High School, Earlywine Park and Oklahoma City Community College and is home to about 85,000 people.
Hinkle will succeed David Greenwell, who had held the council seat since 2011. Greenwell decided he would not seek reelection last year.
Hinkle has served on the OKC Planning Commission for the last six years, appointed by David Greenwell who had held the Ward 5 seat since 2011. Greenwell decided not to run for reelection this year.
In an interview with NonDoc last month, Hinkle, who identifies as an unabashedly pro-police conservative, said he could work with other members of the City Council as long as it’s a two-way street.
“It all depends on how they work with me,” he said. “I’m not a combative person at all. I’m a very easygoing person. I like getting to know people and solving problems. But I see through BS really quick, and I don’t like stupidity.”
Hinkle said homelessness and improving roads in Ward 5 were among his biggest priorities if elected. Hinkle said his work with the planning commission had prepared him for life on the city council if he won.
“I was cognizant of how the council worked before I got involved in the Planning Commission, but the nuts and bolts of how things get in line and how things get done is complicated,” Hinkle said. “That’s why I feel like I’m a better candidate.”
Hinkle has been a longtime member of the Southside Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and has served on the Oklahoma City Planning Commission for the past six years. He works for Tyler Media in his regular job. This was his first run for elected office.
OKC City Council members are elected to four-year terms and earn $12,000 per year.