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Cooper sworn in as councilman for Ward 7

Rev. Lee Cooper Jr. was sworn in as councilman for Ward 7 on Tuesday. He will serve as John A. Pettis Jr.'s interim replacement on the Oklahoma City Council.
Rev. Lee Cooper Jr. was sworn in as councilman for Ward 7 on Tuesday. He will serve as John A. Pettis Jr.'s interim replacement on the Oklahoma City Council.

Whoops and hollers resounded off the marble walls of city hall Tuesday morning as a vacant seat was filled on the Oklahoma City Council.

Rev. Lee Cooper Jr. received a standing ovation at the council meeting after he was sworn in as a councilman, representing Ward 7 of Oklahoma City.

“Councilman Cooper, take your seat,” Mayor David Holt said.

Cooper’s immediate family, including his 2-year-old granddaughter, Leiah, joined him as he swore to support, obey and defend the U.S. and state constitutions, immediately followed by a commitment to not accept money in relation to his position besides direct compensation.

Cooper will serve until a permanent replacement of former Councilman John A. Pettis Jr. is elected in a special primary election Aug. 28 or, if necessary, a special runoff primary Nov. 6. 

Pettis resigned May 31 after being charged with three counts of embezzlement

Cooper said the circumstances under which he was appointed are unfortunate, but he wants the city to continue to "move forward." 

"We've still got a lot to accomplish," Cooper said. "I'm not a politician, but I am a public servant, and I pray I will do it well." 

Cooper grew up in Ward 7 and has served as the minister of Prospect Baptist Church, 2809 N Missouri Ave., for 31 years. 

Many members of his extended family and congregation were in attendance, and they joined in celebration as Cooper took his seat. 

Holt called it a joyous occasion and joked he is “no longer the new guy” because of Cooper.

The council approved several measures during the meeting, including a settlement regarding Scissortail Park and the foreclosure of a couple of trash-filled properties on NW 42 St. 

The council unanimously approved a settlement with Cusack Wholesale Meat Company for $60,000 regarding the company-owned property near S Harvey Avenue and SW 12 that was originally included and then excluded from plans for Scissortail Park.

The council discussed details regarding two trash-filled properties  at 2436 NW 42 St. and 2440 NW 42 St. before voting unanimously to file a lawsuit in district court against the owners, requiring them to remove "excessive accumulations of trash" from the property and prohibit such accumulation in the future. The council also voted unanimously to foreclose the properties. 

The council went into executive session to discuss a potential opioid lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies, only to reconvene and strike the vote from the agenda. 

Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid requested a couple of qualified speakers' opinions on the opioid lawsuit when they came before the council to speak about other line items. 

Roy Williams, the president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said the opioid crisis has had a severe economic impact on the city, mostly in the decrease of workforce availability. Williams told Shadid a settlement would be the best option to help the city.

Dr. J. Goodloe, representing the Emergency Physicians Foundation Medical Control Board, said pharmaceutical companies are due some blame in the opioid crisis and answered many council member's questions about the topic.

The council moved the resolution, which would authorize Municipal Counselor Kenneth Jordan to negotiate a legal service contract for the lawsuit, to the agenda for the next meeting, July 3. 

Kelsy Schlotthauer

Kelsy Schlotthauer graduated from Oklahoma State University in May with a degree in multimedia journalism and a minor in Middle Eastern studies. While at OSU, she covered the crime beat for The O’Colly, the university’s student-run newspaper, and... Read more ›