The race for the Ward 2 seat, which is being vacated by outgoing Councilman Sam Bowman, features a lineup of six candidates, while Ward 5 incumbent Brian Walters faces a challenge from David Greenwell.
In Ward 6, incumbent Meg Salyer faces two challengers — Jessica Holstein (pictured, left) and Adrian Van Manen — while in Ward 8, incumbent Patrick Ryan will face challenger Cliff Hearron.
At 21, Holstein is the youngest council candidate. She told Oklahoma Gazette she was inspired to run by what she saw as a city government disconnected from average citizens. A student at the University of Central Oklahoma, Holstein works at a psychiatry clinic as a research assistant and performs mental evaluations.
Holstein addressed the City Council on Jan. 18 (starts at 1:09:38 mark, must be viewed in Internet Explorer), expressing concern that attending Mayor Mick Cornett’s State of the City address cost $75 for non-Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce members.
She said some of the issues she hopes to bring to the table are making police and firefighter protection a higher priority, making sure no eminent domain cases arise to obtain property for MAPS 3 projects, and promoting small businesses.
Van Manen, music director at Windsor Hills Baptist Church and music instructor at the church’s Oklahoma Baptist College, declined an interview with Oklahoma Gazette.
On his campaign website, Van Manen states that his priorities would be to increase the number of police and firefighters, have a fire station previously promised by the city be built in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and increase attentiveness to street and road repairs.
He states that he is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Fire Fighters. He is also one of three candidates endorsed by the Sooner Tea Party.
Hearron, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and a part-time instructor of German and Russian languages at Oklahoma Baptist College, said he chose to run because he and others in Ward 8 felt many issues are not being adequately addressed, such as police and fire protection and street and road repairs.
If elected, Hearron said he would work to grow police and fire personnel and resources, and prioritize street repair, speaking boldly for what residents in his district want.
He is also endorsed by the local chapter of the IAFF as well as the Sooner Tea Party.
Oklahoma Gazette conducted research and background checks on all council candidates. Among the findings were festive pictures on Holstein’s public MySpace page, showing the candidate in revealing poses during a Halloween party.
Holstein said the pictures capture her at a different time in her life and that she has moved on. The MySpace page was taken down after a Feb. 15 interview.
“It was three years ago,” she said. “I’ve changed a lot since then. I’m a homeowner, I’m getting married and I have a career I love and plan on doing it for as long as I can. I never said I was perfect — I just said I represent the common people, and I don’t know many common people who don’t have a past or skeletons in their closet.”
The Gazette also found photographs from a spring 2010 event at the Oklahoma Baptist College known as the North-South School of the Prophets, in which several student evangelists are pictured holding both United States flags and Confederate Battle flags. In the background of the photographs, people in both Union and Confederate regalia are pictured.
While Van Manen did not grant an interview request from the Gazette, Hearron spoke about the event, although he said questions about it would best be answered by OBC administration.
Hearron said he has attended the North-South event in the past, but that it is meant to inspire friendly competition among the group and held little significance outside of that.
“The Confederacy went away in 1865, and I think you’ll find probably that sort of thing is kind of a (way) … to incite some competition locally in the college,” he said. “I don’t think it means anything.”
For full coverage of the City Council Wards 5, 6 and 8 races, see the Feb. 23 edition of Oklahoma Gazette.