John­son an­nounces plans to re­tire in ‘19

Coun­cil­man is in sec­ond term rep­re­sent­ing Ward 7

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - BY WIL­LIAM CRUM Staff Writer wcrum@ok­la­

Ok­la­homa City Coun­cil­man John Pettis said Thurs­day he would run for Ok­la­homa County com­mis­sioner from District 1, rep­re­sent­ing cen­tral and north­east parts of the county.

Com­mis­sioner Willa John­son an­nounced this week that she would re­tire when her term ends in early 2019.

Pettis said be­com­ing county com­mis­sioner would en­able him to ex­pand on the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment goals he has pur­sued on the coun­cil.

“We’ve worked hard to move Ward 7 for­ward,” Pettis said.

He said strate­gies fol­lowed to cre­ate the North­east Re­nais­sance eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive could be adapted to ben­e­fit com­mu­ni­ties such as For­est Park, Spencer, Jones and Luther in District 1.

Along with re­vi­tal­iz­ing com­mer­cial dis­tricts to spur eco­nomic growth, Pettis said it was “time for Ok­la­homa County to tackle the se­ri­ous is­sues of crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form, the Ok­la­homa County jail, and much­needed in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments.”

Pettis, 34, was first elected to the city coun­cil in 2013 from Ward 7, rep­re­sent­ing north­east Ok­la­homa City.

He was re-elected in Fe­bru­ary with 80.7 per­cent of the vote, in a three-way race.

Pettis’ coun­cil seat is non­par­ti­san. He said he would run for county com­mis­sioner as a Demo­crat.

Pettis said his ex­pe­ri­ence as a coun­cil­man would give him the abil­ity, as com­mis­sioner, to strengthen re­la­tion­ships with en­ti­ties in­clud­ing The Al­liance for the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment of Ok­la­homa City and the Greater Ok­la­homa City Cham­ber, the city’s lead­ing busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Pettis serves on the Ok­la­homa City Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Trust and is ac­tive in the Na­tional League of Cities.

John­son’s ca­reer

For­merly the Ward 7 coun­cil­woman, John­son was elected county com­mis­sioner in 2007.

In a state­ment an­nounc­ing her plans not to seek re-elec­tion, she said af­ter 24 years in pub­lic of­fice “now is my time to step aside.”

John­son said los­ing her first race for city coun­cil 28 years ago “mo­ti­vated me to work harder to be­come a force for change.”

In leav­ing the coun­cil to suc­ceed Com­mis­sioner Jim Roth, she said she sought to bring a “spirit of co­op­er­a­tion” to county govern­ment — a goal she said was achieved over the past decade.

She cited achieve­ments in­clud­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive projects such as widen­ing Sooner Road, part­ner­ships with pub­lic schools and sup­port for Tinker Air Force Base.

If he wins elec­tion, Pettis would serve as one of three county com­mis­sion­ers and would be a mem­ber of the county bud­get board. The eight county elected of­fi­cials serve on the bud­get board.

Pettis said he would con­tinue to serve as Ward 7 coun­cil­man while run­ning for com­mis­sioner.

The pri­mary elec­tion is in June 2018, with the runoff pri­mary in Au­gust and gen­eral elec­tion in Novem­ber.

Com­mis­sion­ers earn about $105,000 per year. Ok­la­homa City Coun­cil mem­bers earn $12,000 an­nu­ally.

If Pettis were to be­come com­mis­sioner, the city coun­cil would have the author­ity to ap­point some­one to fill the Ward 7 va­cancy pend­ing an elec­tion.

Ward 7 Coun­cil­man John Pettis Jr.

Willa John­son, Ok­la­homa County com­mis­sioner

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