With Marrs and Kelly no longer at the council chamber’s horseshoe, 14 combined years of council experience are being replaced by rookies James Greiner and John Pettis Jr., two men who now find themselves in the middle of critical decisions, including several MAPS 3 projects.
The new council members were sworn in earlier this week.
So who are these new guys?
Meet the newbies
Greiner, 32, is a team leader for the graphic design department at Hobby Lobby’s corporate offices. The Putnam City West High School graduate earned his graphic-design degree from Oklahoma State University. He’s married and has three children.
Part of his campaign message in Ward 1 centered on a limited city government that he says should focus on public safety, infrastructure and “things that the private sector is unable to do on its own,” such as the development of parks, a zoo and the Bricktown and downtown revitalization.
“If a government stays within its proper role and is based on truth, the citizens of that government will be free to make their own choices and free to reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of those choices,” he wrote on his campaign website.
Meanwhile, 30-year-old Pettis is executive director of The Oklahoma Institute for Minority Affairs, a position that Kelly had raised questions about during the campaign.
Pettis pledged to fight for lower crime and more city funding to improve and maintain “public transportation, streets, sidewalks, parks and swimming pools” in Ward 7 neighborhoods.
He continually said during the weeks prior to the runoff that residents were ready for a change and Kelly had been unresponsive to his constituents.
Greiner promised to be as attentive to residents in his ward.
“I’m going to focus on being responsive to everybody who lives in Ward 1,” said Greiner, whose campaign emphasized his Christian faith and convictions.
“I want to be on the neighborhood side of things as well. I think all the decisions the city council makes should be based on logic, not emotion.”
Pettis, for his part, vowed he would not be an obstacle to progress. He said he will work to bring new economic development to his district, which he called Oklahoma City’s “forgotten ward.”
Although Pettis defeated Kelly handily, the challenger still weathered allegations that he does not have a paying job and has had problems with the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
Pettis said the attacks could be traced back to Kelly.
“He called me a young con man, which is not true,” he said.
“If all those accusations made against me were true, I would not have had the endorsement of [Oklahoma] County Commissioner Willa Johnson or the [Oklahoma City] FOP (Fraternal Order of Police).”
Pettis said his job provides an income “whenever the institute is able to pay me.” He also said he has never “been in trouble” over tax collections.
He declined to talk specifically about accusations that he hasn’t filed tax returns in several years.
“I will address all that stuff pretty soon. Now is not the time,” said Pettis. “I will talk about it in a few weeks.”
Mayor Mick Cornett said he met with Greiner and Pettis after the polls closed on April 2 and both were enthusiastic about the election.
“I was reminded of 2001 when I beat a two-term incumbent,” Cornett said. “I know there will be a great deal of admiration by the rest of the council. I don’t anticipate any problems, but it’s extremely early. I don’t sense any hidden agendas.”
Greiner received 57 percent of the vote in his race, while Pettis collected more than 61 percent in his win.
Nine percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Ward 1 while 7 percent participated in the Ward 7 election.
According to Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary Doug Sanderson, municipal elections typically generate voter turnout ranging from 8 to 15 percent of registered voters.
Hey! Read This:
- Skip Kelly and John Pettis Jr. face off in Tuesday’s city council race for Ward 7
- This year’s city council races saw far fewer campaign dollars spent than in 2010
- Seven candidates are battling it out in Tuesday’s Ward 7 city council race
- Ward 1 City Councilman Gary Marrs squares off against challenger James Greiner in Tuesday’s runoff
- OKC City Councilman Gary Marrs faces two challengers in the March 5 municipal elections