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Race for Oklahoma City Council seat takes interesting turn


Scott Cooper October 23rd, 2008

It should be in the bag for Meg Salyer. Unless the 53-year-old knocks her head on a car door and loses her memory, she is a shoe-in to be the next Oklahoma City Council member. Salyer is brimming with...

It should be in the bag for Meg Salyer. Unless the 53-year-old knocks her head on a car door and loses her memory, she is a shoe-in to be the next Oklahoma City Council member. Salyer is brimming with confidence, but nonetheless cautious.

"This is Oklahoma and stranger things have happened," Salyer joked with a tepid voice.

MAINSTAY
PRIORITIES

In a position every candidate running for elected office dreams of, Salyer is vying to succeed Ann Simank as the Ward 6 representative on the City Council. She had two opponents when the filing period opened in September. But in the days following the sign-up, the other two candidates dropped out, leaving Salyer the lone contender.

A cinch, right? Well, one of the dropouts failed to do so before the deadline and will still be on the Nov. 4 ballot. Clarence Warstler had to end his campaign due to a death in the family. He endorsed Salyer, but it still means there are two names on the ballot for voters to chose between.

"I had lots of friends call me and remind me a dead person was elected in the Panhandle," Salyer said. "It's reasonable not to take anything for granted."

MAINSTAY
Founder and president of Accel Financial Staffing, Salyer has been a mainstay of community organizations and endeavors since moving to Oklahoma City nearly a quarter century ago. She has served as president of the city's Downtown Rotary Club and trustee for the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Salyer and her husband, Chris, get a lot of the credit for revitalizing the once dilapidated area of downtown Broadway Avenue. The couple purchased the area and brought in restaurants, retail shops and office space. The street is now known as Automobile Alley.

It was this type of entrepreneurship that led Salyer to run for City Council.

"I feel I have been trying to move the city forward," she said. "I talked to a lot of friends and the message was, 'This is what you do anyway, so why don't you take a step up and put yourself in a position where you might be able to guide and direct with a little more influence?'"

The ward roughly stretches from N.W. 23rd to S.W. 44th and across from Portland and Robinson avenues.

"Ward 6 is a very unique ward within the city," Salyer said. "I believe it's the most densely populated and absolutely the most diverse in terms of population and neighborhood composition. It's a microcosm of our whole state in a lot of ways. Start with the Stockyards, we've got cowboys. Move to Capitol Hill. "¦ We have a very large immigrant population. You move north and you have the homes of the some of the early entrepreneurship that helped settle our community. You move west and some of the people who were born there have been there for 75 years."

PRIORITIES
As a council member, Salyer said her priorities would be the same as residents of her ward have suggested " streets, safety and services. For Salyer, that means working on the aging infrastructure, providing quality delivery of services and supporting the fire and police departments.

Salyer knows winning the seat will only be topped by following a legacy.

"I've got huge shoes to follow," Salyer said of Simank. "As I travel the neighborhoods, she is described to me as 'our friend Ann.' She cared tremendously about our neighborhoods. She was committed to mental health issues, homeless issues. I was honored that she endorsed my campaign."

Simank resigned her post in August after her son was accepted into the Oklahoma City Fire Training Academy. City charter prohibits close family members working for the city.

Simank's legacy stretches beyond the 13 years she served on the City Council. Many city leaders credit Simank for helping to rebuild the city after the 1995 bombing, for which Simank had only been on the council for eight days before the blast. Simank was also instrumental in the original MAPS project. She was a strong advocate for the city's mental health concerns.

"She was a hard worker," said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. "In a world that has higher demands, she exceeded demands. She was always there when she was needed." "Scott Cooper

 
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