Holt the clear choice as OKC’s next mayor
THREE people hope to win Tuesday’s primary election for Oklahoma City mayor. State Sen. David Holt is clearly the best choice to help the city build on the gains made during Mick Cornett’s 14 years in office.
Holt, 38, faces Randall Smith, 58, and University of Oklahoma student Taylor Neighbors, 21, in Tuesday’s election. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, then a runoff will be April 3.
Holt is a strong favorite to avoid that necessity. He has secured more than 1,300 endorsements and raised roughly $435,000 (from 647 donors) for his campaign. Simply put — he’s the one serious candidate for the job.
Neighbors has said the mayor’s race struck her as a “dynastic succession, not a democratic election,” although Cornett faced opposition each year he ran for re-election, including a spirited campaign four years ago by City Councilman Ed Shadid.
Smith, who isn’t running a campaign, says he wants to see Oklahoma City become more attractive to millennials by developing moderately affordable housing and adopting policies to promote renewable energy. He also wants to see the city council become more accessible to citizens, by meeting in the evening once a month.
Holt, a licensed attorney who is managing director of investor relations at Hall Capital, is a product of Putnam City Schools and well-versed in the workings of City Hall, having served five years as Cornett’s chief of staff. Holt won election to the state Senate in 2010, representing District 30, and has proven to be a practical politician. He has worked extensively to improve government transparency and increase voter participation.
“I like to move the ball forward, even a little,” he said during an interview in late 2017. “I love Oklahoma City and I want to see the renaissance continue.”
Oklahoma City’s “weak mayor” system provides the mayor with less clout than in other cities, but the person in the job has a significant role in leading initiatives and serving as the face of the city. Cornett thrived in that role, pushing to drive down obesity in Oklahoma City, and playing key leadership roles in bringing the NBA to town and in promoting passage of various MAPS iterations.
Holt says he wants to ensure that millennials “have a seat at the table” and plans to reach out to parts of the city that are “not as excited with the renaissance” because they don’t believe they have benefited as much as downtown. He also recognizes the importance of public safety.
He is committed to leading “a communitywide conversation about our schools and the education system” and says he wants to build a relationship with the school district. This is a departure from the norm — mayors have traditionally considered schools outside their bailiwick — but Holt says that can’t continue.
A vote for Holt is a vote for someone who is intelligent, articulate, optimistic, collaborative and passionate — just what Oklahoma City needs in its mayor.
One last point: Municipal elections traditionally produce a low turnout. Our hope is that residents will take the time to cast a ballot Tuesday. Turnout has ramifications — for example, Tuesday’s total will impact how many signatures will be needed on future city initiative petitions. It’s important, so vote!