Voters should carefully examine the backgrounds and qualifications of the candidates before voting, because the differences among them are profound.

Candidates from three of the four wards appear to have the support of political interests that seek to reverse the will citizens expressed in MAPS and to assert political agendas.

In Ward 8, Cliff Hearron challenges incumbent Patrick Ryan. Ryan, a professional engineer, has an outstanding record on the council and as a civic leader, with leadership roles in Allied Arts and the United Way. He retired from a successful career at OGE.

In Ward 6, Adrian Van Manen challenges Meg Salyer. Salyer has spent two decades giving the city her tireless efforts in support of business development and a multitude of nonprofits, while running her own business.

The quality of our city government is in peril.

Hearron and Van Manen, along with Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters, are being supported by extremely well organized political groups associated with ultraconservative agendas and conspiracy theories alleging United Nations takeover of our cities.

At the heart of the challengers’ campaigns are tea party elements and the Windsor Hills Baptist Church, known for hyperpolitical activities partially documented by Doug Loudenback’s “Underpinnings of OKC Tea Party Candidates” YouTube video. Both Hearron and Van Manen are Windsor Hills members and teach at the church’s school, Oklahoma Baptist College.

The supporters of these three candidates will rely on the traditionally low turn out in city elections to obtain a winning number of votes.

By opposing MAPS and injecting social agendas that should be considered in the state Legislature, if at all, their election would turn back the advances our city has made that have shielded us from much of the economic anguish experienced by the rest of the country.

OKC’s civic projects were voted on and approved by its citizens and are implemented by one of the most effective, honest and transparent city governments in the country. Polls show citizens greatly approve of its accomplishments.

The council’s strength comes from its nonpartisan nature, a willingness of civically engaged citizens to serve, and a focus on issues and initiatives within the scope of city government. Bringing partisan and extreme elements into our city government would be devastating.

Our city government is not broken.

It is in excellent condition and is fiscally responsible. Let’s support and get out the vote for Meg Salyer in Ward 6 and Pat Ryan in Ward 8, both of whom have made substantial contributions.

In addition, David Greenwell is a newcomer to politics and would be an excellent choice in Ward 5. His broad experience in civic service, his professional experiences as a certified public accountant, and his understanding of city finances will serve the city well. His election would help counter the take-over attempts by these partisan groups.

We need council members who are positive and dedicated to our city’s future, not driven by ideologies. Watch out for spurious and negative telephone campaigning attacking Ryan and Salyer.

Do your homework and cast an informed vote on Tuesday. Urge your friends and neighbors in these wards to cast their votes. The quality of our city government is in peril.

Bleakley is publisher of Oklahoma Gazette.

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