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Shawnee City Commission: Bolt starts new post as mayor Monday

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star

Go to the right.

To the right.

And, to the right one more time.

Ward 1 Shawnee City Commissioner Ed Bolt will be sliding over a few seats come Monday; he will hang up his hat halfway through his ward post to take on the job as Shawnee's new mayor. He will replace Mayor Richard Finley after being sworn in during this week's regular City Commission meeting.

Elected just Tuesday, out of a pool of four candidates, Bolt is ready to get started.

Visible and transparent are favored among Bolt's goals as the city's new leader.

“I want to be a very visible mayor,” he said. “I want people to get to know me and know I am accessible.”

Along that line, Bolt said an important top goal of his is to help the city government communicate better.

“It's not as simple as it used to be; there are many different ways,” he said. “But we need to do a better job.”

He said he wants residents to know it's their city, and to become involved.

“I want them to come to the City Commission meetings and interact,” he said. “Be included, be part of it; the city belongs to all of us — don't be afraid to reach out.”

In broader terms, Bolt said he wants to be inclusive and let everyone know that the city government is working for them.

“I'm going to work hard to make that happen,” he said.

There are some big projects coming up that all residents are going to have to get through together as he steers the helm.

Bolt said construction projects like Kickapoo South and the 45th Street, while underway will be painful, but after that period of pain it will be better on the other side.

“We have a lot of good things going on,” he said.

A couple of parks are going to get facelifts and he said there's talk about potential opportunities at the Twin Lakes, as well.

“Downtown is miles ahead of where it was six or seven years ago,” he said.

He said the Streetscape on Main, multiple businesses and new residential areas downtown have been a tremendous boost to the area.

“We have great development going on all over,” he said. “We're on a roll.”

And that's important, he said.

“As Oklahoma City keeps creeping this way, that (growth) will keep going,” he said. “We need to be ready — by building up our infrastructure.”

Bolt said though the water and wastewater treatment plants may not be exciting to talk about or visit, residents sure feel grateful when they are working.

City staff has really done a great job getting that project going, he said.

“We've just got to have that done,” he said.

Talk of possible development at the lakes are another avenue for potential sales tax revenue.

“There isn't a plan for the lakes now,” he said. “But maybe there are some options for what could be done out there in the future.”

Of course the city's water supply would be top priority if anything does happen out there eventually, he said.

“We are very lucky and blessed with so much here,” he said.

In any case, Bolt said more people are going to be heading in Shawnee's direction with the addition of ODOT projects, like the six-lane Interstate-40 project east of Oklahoma City and the five-lane Highway 9 project past Tecumseh.

“ODOT isn't just trying to be nice to us,” he said.

The area is primed for growth.

“We have one of the greatest opportunities in history,” he said.

Bolt has children and grandchildren living here.

“We want them to stay,” he said. “We want Shawnee to be a town everybody wants to live in, stay at, be.”

He said if he wasn't optimistic about Shawnee's potential, he wouldn't be serving as mayor.

“It's up to us to do it,” he said. “We're headed in the right direction.”

Goals

Bolt said he is hoping to soon get results of a public transit feasibility study that's been done in town. In a collaborative effort with the Tribes, OBU, local business leaders and Oklahoma City representatives familiar with such a program, much input has been gathered.

Bolt said he hopes a fixed route could be established that would benefit residents.

“The city wouldn't run it,” he said. “It would have to be a group like the nonprofit COCAA or the Tribes, maybe.”

The homelessness issue also weighs on Bolt's mind.

A collaborative called Built for Zero (to end homelessness), is a successful case management system that's been initiated in 100 communities all over the country, he said.

He said he hopes to get local groups (that tackle homelessness in some way) talking together.

“Shared info is better than operating out of silos,” he said. “It's a Federal program that would be funded with Community Development Block Grants (CDBG); it wouldn't be city money.”

Bolt's favorite campaign story

Bolt recently took to the streets — literally — to give residents an opportunity to put a face to all the campaign signs around town.

“Lots of people mentioned seeing my signs,” he said — but not everyone knows Bolt personally.

He said it was important for him to go out and interact with the community face-to-face.

While standing at the corner of MacArthur and Kickapoo, Bolt said he was especially amused by a short conversation he had with one resident in particular — a boy, about 5 or 6 years old.

“I was holding one of my signs, waving at people and this family pulls up,” he said. “This boy yells at me asking, 'Do you need a ride?'”

He was making sure I was okay, Bolt said.

Bolt said many of the travelers he encountered were checking on his water supply and communicated positive things during the excursion.

“It was all so nice,” he said.

About Bolt

• Bolt married his wife, Phyllis, and moved to the Shawnee area about 18 and a half years ago.

• He has been living in Shawnee proper for about four and a half years.

• Retired more than 11 years, Bolt purchased a condemned building on Main Street, fixed it up and started a business, which grew much bigger than he expected.

• Bolt said he and Phyllis are at a time in their lives when they ought to give back, which they enjoy doing.