March 8, 2017
Dear citizens of Oklahoma City,
On February 22, Oklahoma City’s longtime mayor, Mick Cornett, announced he would not seek re-election next spring. Later that day, I announced I would be a candidate for mayor in 2018. I want to detail my reasons for this decision and ask for your help and support.
When I first ran for county commissioner in 2008, I did so because I know that those of us in local government at the county and municipal levels actually do more to serve the people directly than those in other, supposedly more exalted positions, at the state and federal levels. During my two-plus terms at the courthouse, I have confirmed that belief. For example, the SHINE program I created in 2010 has saved millions of dollars as it also helped instill a spirit of volunteerism in so many.
But at the courthouse I am one of three commissioners and one of a total of eight elected officials. Even under our manager/council form of government in Oklahoma City, the mayor stands alone as the only official who is elected citywide, with what Teddy Roosevelt so aptly called a bully pulpit from which one can lead and inspire. That is exactly the opportunity that drove me to make this decision.
Oklahoma City has made tremendous strides in the past 20-plus years, from the MAPS projects to so much more. But there is work still to be done, and I am concerned about three key challenges that will face the next mayor and council.
First, as the city has grown, our public safety agencies have simply failed to keep pace. Police and fire staffing is close to where it was 20 years ago. Response times continue to rise. Lives are literally at stake here; as mayor I will make it my number one priority to work with the police and fire chiefs to assure that staffing levels are raised to at least the national average for cities of our population.
Public safety is and must be the first priority of municipal government. It will be mine as well.
Second, while the benefits of many of the MAPS projects are evident, there is justifiable concern among many that we have failed to keep up with the less glamorous but equally vital basic infrastructure needs of the city, including streets, sewers and water. These are not the kind of issues that make big headlines, but as I have learned from serving as county commissioner, they make a lot of difference to many people.
Third, I would like to continue to expand the SHINE program I created during my first term at the county. As most people know, SHINE has two pillars – the widely praised and emulated alternative sentencing program for low-level offenders that saves well over a million dollars a year in jail costs, and the companion Students for SHINE program that encourages young people to become active community volunteers. Bringing SHINE to the municipal courts and spreading the gospel of volunteerism citywide would make ours a better community overall.
Look at how much we have accomplished since the mid-1990s . . . and imagine what we can do as a fully and truly united community in the years to come.
Let me assure you that I intend to continue to discharge the duties of the office of county commissioner. This race for mayor is not INSTEAD of that job. I was honored to be chosen as chairman of the Board of County Commissioners for 2017 and I will be on duty doing that job.
But after much thought, I have determined to give full effort to this new campaign for mayor, not because I am dissatisfied with my current position, but because it holds a unique potential to help lead my city into a brighter future. I believe my eight-plus years of experience in local government – including the close working relationship I have enjoyed with municipal leaders throughout Oklahoma County – makes be uniquely qualified for that job. And I ask for your support in this effort.
Of course this campaign will be bigger and more challenging than any I have undertaken in the past. That requires funding. As you may recall, last year after I learned I was the only county official who drew no election opponents, I refunded the campaign dollars so many had already donated to my re-election because I have great respect and appreciation for those who so generously invest their money in the cause of better government.
And because of that respect, I now ask for your support in two forms:
First, if you would you like to signify your support for my mayoral campaign to simply say
“I’m for you!” You can call/text me directly at 824-3120.
Second, for those who wish to financially support my campaign, I am enclosing a donor card and return envelope. Under state ethics rules the maximum any individual can contribute to a candidate for municipal office in one election cycle is $2,700. Of course any amount you can spare will be deeply appreciated as we begin preparing for the campaign.
I am blessed to have an extensive roster of friends and supporters who have stepped up in past campaigns, as well as throughout my time in public service, to show their appreciation. My pledge to all of them today remains as it was when I first sought the office of county commissioner in a race where I had to overcome an incumbent, a well-funded runoff challenge and a general election – to run with honor, and if elected to serve with integrity.
Thanks for your past friendship and support --- and I hope to hear from you soon!