Shawnee residents will decide between incumbent Marva O’Neal, 71, and opponent James Harrod, 68, when voting for Ward 3 City Commissioner. Those two will be on Tuesday’s ballot.


Shawnee residents will decide between incumbent Marva O’Neal, 71, and opponent James Harrod, 68, when voting for Ward 3 City Commissioner. Those two will be on Tuesday’s ballot.
The News-Star asked each candidate the following questions:
Q: Why do you want to serve as commissioner for the city of Shawnee?
Harrod: I am tired of the city not moving forward. Some of the commissioners have their own agenda and are serving for their own personal gain or power control. We have wasted four years with no progress on our water problems, sewer upgrades, street repair and a location for the regional park. Now that it is election time, there is a great deal of talk about water and new sources of water, streets are finally being repaired and talk of purchasing land for the regional park. Our trash service is like we are working for Allied Waste, not them working for the residents of Shawnee. Our codes and building ordinances are not business friendly and nothing is being done to help new businesses get started. All of these things and others must be changed for Shawnee to move forward. I have the business and administrative experience to make these changes a reality. I want to serve my community and see Shawnee grow and prosper.
O’Neal: I want to continue to serve as Ward 3 Commissioner for Shawnee because I believe I can make a positive difference for the people who live in the older parts of town. There are many small things that can be done that create large paybacks for our older neighborhoods such as street lights and preventive street maintenance. Many times these neighborhoods are the homes of retired Shawnee residents and they are the people that made Shawnee what it is today. I feel we should do our best to support our elderly and youth. I am part of the fabric of Ward 3 in Shawnee, I live here, own a business here and go to church here. My business puts me in daily contact with the constituents in my ward and gives me an opportunity to listen to their concerns.
Q: What are your proposed plans for Shawnee during the next four years?
Harrod: First, we must hire a city manager. The commission needs to develop criteria based on a job description, qualifications, and the personality traits of the type of person they feel would do the best job for the citizens of Shawnee. A national search should be conducted and we may need to hire a search firm in order to make sure we get the best qualified person. A new manager should not be hired before all new commissioners are seated and have an opportunity to review all applications and be involved in the interview process.
O’Neal: I want to work on the commission to make Shawnee, a safe, healthy, growing city. Gasoline prices are going to help our stores because people are not going to want to drive to the city as often. This will be a great opportunity for Shawnee to grow. In order for that growth to be the most productive, we must secure water from Sardis Lake. Zoning issues are going to be very important. I want to make sure that our current neighborhoods are preserved and any zoning changes are with the approval of the current neighborhood residents.
Q: If elected what are some changes or improvements you have in store for the Shawnee community and/or at Shawnee City Hall? Do you see those changes long term? Explain.
Harrod: A. Repair or replace the 19-inch water line from the Twin Lakes to the main water plant. B. Try to help solve the problems between the Corps of Engineers and the state so we can move forward to use Sardis Lake as a source of water. C. Immediately ask for a review of Allied Waste contract. D. Review and make recommendation for friendly codes and ordinances to help new businesses and especially new businesses in downtown Shawnee and work with the economic development department.
O’Neal: I want us to choose a new city manager, who has grant writing experience and is not a micro manager. While in office, I have chosen to work on what some people might call the little things, and I want to continue with those projects. I want to see more street lighting in Shawnee. Meanness happens more often in the dark. I want all the streets in Shawnee, to be promptly and properly maintained. I want to make sure Kickapoo is four laned and I want to see the Regional Sports Park completed. I saw a picture of the Sports Park in Chickasha, and I think we should be able to build a nice park if Chickasha can.
Q: What are some of the challenges you see in serving as commissioner and how do you plan to overcome those challenges?
Harrod: Time and money. It takes time to make changes and the money to make it make it happen. These are the two most frustrating challenges to moving forward in getting items done. I hope to be working with new progressive and aggressive city commissioners. I will challenge the new city manager to seek new funding through creative methods. And I will also encourage our new city manager and commission to move forward by taking action on problems immediately.
O’Neal: It is always a challenge to really have good communication with residents. I am not a very good speaker, but I am a very good listener. I want to look for more real opportunities to listen to my constituents.
Q: How do you intend to be more effective as commissioner of Shawnee than your opponent?
Harrod: I can and will make decision and provide leadership while studying the issues facing our city. I will stay in the commission chambers and not get up and leave when it is time to take a vote. I will not seek special favors or privileges for my own personal gain. And yes, I will always stand up for citizens of Shawnee over city government and commissioners politics every time. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will represent the resident of Shawnee. I am not elected to protect the city from its residents. City government should be for the people by the people.
O’Neal: My opponent lives in Ward 3 but does not participate in our community. I am here 24/7 and available most of that time. Every part of Shawnee deserves representation and I feel that I represent the people in Ward 3. I have never and will never sue the city or take advantage of my position to help with my private business.
Q: Closing Remarks?
Harrod: Shawnee is a great place to live, work and raise your families. Our city has highly qualified and service minded employees. I look forward to working with them for the betterment of our great city. The residents of Shawnee deserve a commissioner who will provide leadership and a willing spirit to listen to their concerns. And I promise to take an active role in seeking solutions to their problems. Such as trash, water, parks, streets, or whatever the need may be. I will be an action seeking commissioner. Most important, I appreciate the opportunity to run for commissioner of Shawnee.
O’Neal: Shawnee is a special place to me. I had my first office job here many many years ago. I feel honored that you have allowed me to serve as your city commissioner for the last four years. I hope you will give me a vote of confidence, so I can continue to serve the city of Shawnee.