Mayoral candidate denied access speak at City Council meeting

Nelson, 76, addresses the council
regularly during the public comments section of the council agenda.
Since filing for office, Nelson has been told twice he could not make
any remarks to the council unless they involved an agenda item.

Dilapidated buildings and abandoned
structures are routinely considered by the council.

In a letter to Oklahoma Gazette, Nelson
wrote, “They (city officials) insulted me and refused to allow me
to speak before the council on matters that were in fact part of
today’s agenda.”

Nelson wrote he wanted to address the
council about the same concerns Ward 3 Councilmen Larry McAtee and
Ward 4 Councilman Pete White had aired in previous meetings regarding
the large number of dilapidated structures in OKC.

Assistant Municipal Counselor Rick
Smith said city policy prohibits mayoral candidates from making
political speeches or comments during city council meetings.

Smith was unaware when the policy was

“I guess since candidates for
political office tried to make speeches,” he said. “Sir, I don’t
know. I don’t have a date for it.”

According to Smith, Nelson could only
speak about one of the three dilapidated buildings on Tuesday’s
agenda, and not the city’s overall program of enforcing the
dilapidated structure ordinance.

“If this is what politics is all
about, it’s no wonder people don’t get involved,” Nelson said.
“They, in effect, barricaded me from going into the council meeting
and I was told to leave.”

Nelson claims he left city hall on his
own to avoid a public confrontation.

Nelson, a retired general contractor,
is one of four candidates seeking the mayor’s post, including
incumbent Mick Cornett and Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid. The fourth
candidate is Phil Hughes.

Nelson contends Cornett and Shadid make
comments at every council meeting that are not related to an agenda

“They can say anything they want, but
not me,” he said. “They want to keep me down. But I am going to
speak before this council as a citizen. It’s my absolute right to
do so, especially where the people of this city and their rights are
also concerned.”

Citizens who want
to address the council must fill out a speaker’s form with their
name, address, telephone number and reason for appearing. Each
citizen is given three minutes to address the council.

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