Over the past couple of years, I have attended many city commission meetings where I observed policy and decisions being made with which I did not agree. So as election time drew near, I began speaking with people about running for the Ward 2 position being vacated by Thomas Schzran.
Over the past couple of years, I have attended many city commission meetings where I observed policy and decisions being made with which I did not agree. So as election time drew near, I began speaking with people about running for the Ward 2 position being vacated by Thomas Schzran. Much to my surprise, I was encouraged to seek the mayor’s position instead. Many people who were unhappy with the commission’s direction expressed concern that Linda Peterson as mayor would be just another 4 years of Chuck Mills. History shows they almost always voted together and staunchly supported City Manager Jim Collard through years of indecision, costly studies, financial turmoil, high management turnover, irrational code enforcement, and a general breakdown of confidence in city government.
I believe the people of Shawnee deserve better representation and that is why I am running for mayor.
Several things need to happen if we are to fix the problems at city hall and restore the confidence of people in city government. One of the first things I would do as mayor is re-establish the mayor’s Advisory Committee which was abolished by Chuck Mills shortly after he took office. This committee, which was composed of a cross-section of citizens throughout Shawnee, not only provided information valuable to good policy and decision making, but also gave citizens an opportunity to have a voice in their government.
We need to re-establish priorities, which have run amok over the last 4 years. We need to make progress on water issues, improve our infrastructure (water/sewer, roads, parks), and work to change our “anti-business friendly” image. We must re-think some of our codes and the method in which they are enforced so that we can help rather than hinder our citizens and local businesses — we don’t need any more “Sidewalks to Nowhere” ordinances. I also do not believe giving more taxpayer dollars to the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation for increased staffing and a retail survey is in the best interest of the city. What will help more than anything is to project Shawnee as a clean city with adequate resources, low crime, good roads, excellent schools, a place where businesses thrive and grow and where citizens are content with their government and enjoy a good quality of life.
Choosing a new city manager is the most important step in making this happen and may prove to be our biggest challenge. My personal preference would be to employ a nationwide search firm that specializes in locating experienced city managers with a history of success. Had we done this 4 years ago, I doubt we would be dealing with many of the problems we currently face. There are so many issues of importance to citizens that still need to be addressed, including the contract with Allied Waste whose service has gone downhill since the new contract was negotiated. Of course, water is still a big issue and we must continue to work with the coalition of cities pursuing long-term water initiatives (including Sardis Lake). Hiring an experienced and competent city manager will be the crucial first step in resolving these issues, but I also believe there will have to be some changes on the City Commission. In announcing Jim Collard‘s termination, Vice Mayor Pam Stephens said “we are severing ties with Dr. Collard due to a change in the direction of the City Commission.”
That change in direction is unlikely to happen with the same faces and same thinking that has failed us so badly in the past. As a “new face” on the Commission, one who believes in listening to people and trying to work together for the benefit of all, I believe I can be that new face that helps bring about those positive changes the city so desperately needs.
I am 57 years old and was born and raised in the Oklahoma City area. Elton, my husband of 39 years, and I moved to Shawnee eight years ago. We have two grown children and two grandsons living in Oklahoma City and Yukon. I graduated from Star-Spencer High School in 1968 and later received an Associates Degree in Computer Science from Oklahoma City Community College. I spent several years working in private industry before beginning work at the Federal Aviation Administration in 1976. I retired last year after 30 years of service and opened a real estate office. During my career, I worked for 15 years as a systems analyst on the Department of Transportation’s accounting system, spent eight years as a supervisory computer specialist, and served two years as an information system security officer and disaster recovery coordinator. My community service includes participating on Shawnee’s water advisory committee and serving as president of the Shawnee Twin Lakes Association and vice-president of Shawnee’s AARP Chapter 1527.