Ward 2 candidates want next MAPS to focus on neighborhoods
James Cooper, one of five candidates seeking Oklahoma City’s open Ward 2 seat, envisions a network of public transportation that connects the north central ward with the rest of the city. Streetcar expansion and bus rapid transit are concepts he favors.
But his priority as a member of the council would be to get the city’s current network of buses running more often.
“If we double the bus fleet we can go from 30-minute frequency to 15-minute frequency, and then we are also able to run the buses to 3 a.m.,” said Cooper, who wants the next MAPS program to include a significant investment in public transportation.
“This is a critical policy issue, a priority issue for me.”
With city leaders already discussing another MAPS program — the 1-cent sales tax used for capital projects — each Ward 2 candidate is trying to sell their MAPS vision to voters.
Each is pledging to focus on neighborhood issues that will impact Ward 2, rather than concentrate the funds in the city’s downtown core.
Oklahoma City’s Ward 2 is north of NW 23 Street and includes the Paseo Arts District, the Western Avenue District and Classen Curve. It also includes a mix of affluent and middle class neighborhoods east of Lake Hefner Parkway and pockets of Asian and Hispanic immigrant communities, especially near the Windsor neighborhood.
Cooper, 36, a middle school teacher who sits on the city’s Transportation and Parking Authority board, said he also wants
to see the next MAPS establish social service programs and increase affordable housing.
“These are revolutionary ideas, but they are also practical ideas,” he said.
Mike Dover, a former executive director of Variety Health Center and current member of the MAPS 3 Citizen Advisory Board, wants the next MAPS to improve access to health and wellness programs. He also advocates an increase in bus shelters across the city.
Dover said he has experience serving as a steward of the voter-approved program.
“It’s so important that voters get what they voted for, and I’ve worked in that area of ensuring MAPS programs are delivered,” Dover said.
Cooper and Dover were the first two candidates to enter the race following Councilman Ed Shadid’s announcement he would not seek another term.
Dover has raised nearly $27,000 ahead of the Feb. 12 primary election, while Cooper has raised more than $12,300, according to campaign finance reports submitted last week.
Suzanne Broadbent, a lawyer and former staffer for state lawmakers, announced her candidacy in November, and has raised more than $28,000.
Broadbent, who has served on the Oklahoma City Historic Preservation Commission and was president of the Putnam Heights Preservation Area, has accelerated her exposure and funding by tapping into her network of neighborhood association leaders and volunteers.
“It really matters whether someone is on (the council) that has a real neighborhood perspective,” Broadbent said. “I think that’s what voters are looking for — someone who understands neighborhood issues.”
Broadbent, 69, said she has experience advocating for neighborhood issues before the city’s various boards, ranging from zoning proposals to stop sign placement.
She also wants to work with the school district on ensuring that any schools closed as a result of the district’s reorganization are handled in a “neighborhood-friendly manner.”
Like her opponents, Broadbent wants a MAPS program that invests in Ward 2.
Marilyn Davidson, a former legislative liaison for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections who now owns a legislative consulting firm, said her focus on public safety and law enforcement issues is needed on the council.
“I’m the only candidate for Ward 2 that has worked for a public safety agency,” Davidson, 38, said. “I’ve developed that passion for those people who do that job.”
Davidson said the county’s jail needs to be rebuilt and she is open to the city playing a role.
“But Oklahoma City is not the only one who utilizes (the county jail), so I want to make sure everyone is paying their fair share and not just us,” she said.
Davidson would like to see MAPS fund a new crisis intervention center that can serve as an alternative to jail for individuals struggling with mental illness or addiction.
Davidson also wants to double the police department’s homeless outreach team and increase resources for police officers.
“I want to be their advocate and their champion,” Davidson said about the city’s first responders.
Davidson has raised more than $2,300, according to finance reports.
Tracey Halley-Terrell, 47, is a bail bondsman who owns her business. It’s an experience, she said, that requires her to work with all types of people across the city.
“I just want to represent the everyday person,” Halley-Terrell said. “I’m not an insider in politics. I’m completely out of my comfort zone (running for council), but I really want to represent my neighbor.”
Halley-Terrell has not filed a finance contribution report.
Halley-Terrell said neighborhood safety and support for homeless residents are prominent issues to her, along with backing the city’s efforts with the next MAPS.
If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the Feb. 12 primary election, a runoff between the top two vote recipients will be held April 2.