Johnson announces plans to retire in ‘19
Councilman is in second term representing Ward 7
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.
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