Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Election Guide

Vote for Oklahoma City mayor, school board members on Feb. 13.

Residents of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City Public School’s District 5 will be able to vote in two important elections on Tuesday, Feb. 13. Feb. 13 is the primary election for Oklahoma City mayor and three seats on the Oklahoma City Public Schools school board.

Oklahoma City Mayoral Election

David Holt, Randall Smith and Taylor M. Neighbors filed for Oklahoma City mayor to succeed current Mayor Mick Cornett, who is not seeking re-election after four terms. Mayor Cornett is Oklahoma City’s longest-serving mayor.

The Chamber asked all three candidates to complete a survey that would ascertain their stance on criminal justice reform, regional transit initiatives, the MAPS program, economic development programs and more. Of the three candidates, Holt was the only one to respond. Read a summary of his answers below, or read his full responses.

 

CHAMBER

Mayoral Candidates

 

Holt

Neighbors

Smith

Do you support the efforts of the Greater OKC Chamber and the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Reform Task Force to reduce population in the Oklahoma County jail and in prisons statewide?

YES

Yes

NR

NR

Do you support allowing voters to decide whether to tax themselves to build a Regional Transit/Commuter Rail System in central Oklahoma (to connect, for example, Norman, Edmond, OKC, Moore and Yukon)?

YES

Yes

NR

NR

Do you support the continued use of the City's Economic Development Trust to recruit companies to locate in OKC?

YES

Yes

NR

NR

With regard to future MAPS elections, do you believe funds, if approved by voters, should be used only to construct Transformational Projects/Development as in the past?

YES

Yes

NR

NR

Do you support the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts to support economic development in OKC?

YES

Yes

NR

NR

Do you support the use of eminent domain to acquire private property to facilitate increased development in OKC, including the implementation of future MAPS projects?

YES

Yes

NR

NR

Do you support the state's Historical Building Tax credit which has been used by the City to renovate buildings such as the Skirvin Hotel?

YES

Yes

NR

NR

Will you make police, fire and infrastructure a priority? 

YES

Yes

NR

NR

 

David Holt
Oklahoma State Senator

Background: Holt has served in the Oklahoma State Senate for seven years, where he has seen more than 70 pieces of his legislation become law. He is the former chief of staff to Mayor Mick Cornett and author of Big League City: Oklahoma City’s Rise to the NBA.

In his own words: “I believe we should continue to invest in our quality of life, and we have demonstrated over the past two decades that we can simultaneously address our wants as well as our needs.”

Randall Smith
Resident of southwest Oklahoma City

Smith did not respond to the Chamber’s survey.

Taylor M. Neighbors
Resident of northwest Oklahoma City and student at University of Oklahoma

Neighbors did not respond to the Chamber’s survey.

If the winner of the Feb. 13 primary election earns a majority of the votes, that candidate will be sworn in to a four-year term as Oklahoma City Mayor in April. If no candidate receives a majority, the two candidates with the most votes will stand in a general election on April 3.

Oklahoma City Public School Board Elections

OKCPS board seats for Districts 4, 5 and 7 are also up for election this year.  Mark Mann and Jace Kirk are running unopposed for Districts 4 and 7, respectively, and will be automatically elected. Nichell Braddy-Garcia, Willie Kelley and Ruth Veales stand for election for the District 5 board seat. Veales is the incumbent for the district. If no candidate receives a majority, the primary election will also take place on April 3.

The Chamber contacted all candidates and asked them to complete a survey about the availability of Pre-K and Kindergarten programs, charter schools in the district and more. All candidates responded. View a summary of their responses below, or read a full account of their answers.

 

CHAMBER

District 4

District 5

District 7

 

Mann (i)

Veales (i)

Braddy-Garcia

Kelley

Kirk

Should OKC Public Schools make Pre-K and Kindergarten available for all children that want to attend?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Do you support continuation of existing charter schools within the OKC Public Schools service area?

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Do you support development of new charter schools within the OKC Public Schools?

Yes

Maybe

Yes

No

No

Maybe

Do you believe Oklahoma City Public schools should support creation and utilization of Tax Increment Financing to support economic development?

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Maybe

 

District 4
Mark Mann (i)
Owner at Mark Mann Insurance Agency, Inc. and incumbent of District 4

Background: Mann was appointed to fill Paula Lewis’ vacant seat when she was elected board chairperson in 2017. He is a former staff member of State Superintendent Sandy Garrett and an active supporter of Classen School of Advanced Studies.

In his own words: “My over-arching priority is student growth and achievement. To accomplish that my sub goals would be teacher recruitment and retention, financial transparency, and building and expanding on existing successes.”

District 5
Ruth Veales (i)

Law Enforcement Administrative Assistant at Spencer Police Department and incumbent of District 5

Background: Veales was elected to represent District 5 in 2010 and reelected in 2014. She currently serves as on the steering committee of the National School Board Association’s Council on Urban Boards (CUBE) of Education.

In her own words: “I have learned during my time on the board that the most important responsibility of a board member is to help adopt policies and develop strategies that give the district direction to set priorities and achieve its goals.”

Nichell Braddy-Garcia
Personal banker

Background: Braddy-Garcia is an active parent at Martin Luther King and a regular attendee of OKCPS board meetings.

In her own words: If elected, Braddy-Garcia says her priorities would be to “work with others to form a system conflict check before paying for new programs and hold programs accountable by demanding money back when don’t do well.”

Willie Kelley
Former OKCPS teacher and coach

Background: Kelley is a former OKCPS teacher and basketball/football coach. He taught at Douglass High School, Star Spencer High School and Rogers Middle School.

In his own words: If elected, Kelley’s priorities would be to “improve discipline, provide monies alternative schools and provide teachers with better benefits and pay.”

District 7

Jace Kirk
Assistant Director of Faith Works

Background: Kirk is the current board chair of the Santa Fe South School Board. He was also an active volunteer at Shidler Elementary and Jackson Middle School.

In his own words: “The school board member should be accessible to the public and feel responsible for the academic performance of their schools. The students in the district should be the number one priority of any effective school board member.”

 

Early voting for the primary election is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 8-9 at your local county election board. The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the primary election is 5 p.m. Feb. 7. Access the Oklahoma State Election Board’s online voter tool at www.ok.gov/elections to find your polling location, confirm your registration or request an absentee ballot.