Oklahoma City is blessed with one of the best city governments in the nation
On Jan. 27, the filing period opens for Oklahoma City's primary election for City Council positions in Wards 2, 5, 6 and 8. Most of the incumbent council members are expected to seek re-election, but Ward 2 Councilman Sam Bowman has announced he won't be running.
City Council members elected by Ward 2 voters over the last four decades, including Sam Bowman, have created a remarkable legacy of independent and dynamic leadership in city government.
Patience Latting was a Ward 2 councilwoman before being elected mayor. She was a leader in the citizen reform movement that transformed city politics and city government.
Judge Gene Mathews followed Latting, with his strong voice of reason and understanding providing vital leadership to a city undergoing the intense challenges of desegregation.
Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony began his political career as a Ward 2 councilman, demonstrating the same fierce independence and tenacity then as he does now, which has earned him some of the highest margins of victory for any statewide office.
Attorney Eric Groves, representing Ward 2, was a key leader on the City Council through the perilous days of public employee unrest that resulted in strikes by the police and teacher unions. During and after his service on the City Council, he was deeply involved in the development and implementation of the original MAPS.
Attorney Mark Schwartz was a tireless worker for good government while serving as Ward 2 councilman, effectively representing the ward and the entire city during the challenges arising from the federal building bombing.
Ward 2 councilors Marge Feighny and Amy Brooks continued the ward's tradition of providing gender diversity on the council. They worked tirelessly to represent their ward and its neighborhoods.
Geographically the smallest ward of the city with the highest population density, Ward 2 is one of the most culturally diverse wards. It also contains some of the city's first and strongest neighborhood associations.
It has been these neighborhoods that provided these leaders. Bowman lives in the Cleveland Neighborhood. Groves and Latting are from Edgemere Park. The rest have come from the Crown Heights-Edgemere Heights area, with Mathews later residing in Wildewood.
These council members dutifully represented the interests of inner-city neighborhoods and the diverse citizenry of the ward. But most remarkable has been their independence from the special interests that seek to influence the City Council.
Oklahoma City is blessed with one of the best city governments in the nation. The City Council is now relatively free of controversy or questionable actions. But with vigilance the price of democracy, it is important to continue the quality of independence, perseverance and understanding that Ward 2 councilors have brought to city government.
It is important for the Ward 2 neighborhood associations to keep alive the ward's legacy of outstanding city leadership. Encourage your neighbors who've shown interest in our city's quality of life, who've been civically active and who can be independent of special interests, to consider running for City Council. And if they run, actively support them with your time and money.