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Getting involved

Mayoral candidate Ed Shadid asks a lot of questions about local government. He thinks voters should, too.

Tim Farley February 19th, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of a series of interviews with Oklahoma City’s 2014 mayoral candidates. Check for last week’s interview with candidate Phil Hughes.

As a successful spinal surgeon, Ed Shadid became a wealthy man with all sorts of riches and blessings. He has enjoyed the best of the best because cost has never been a factor.

Yet, for this longtime Oklahoma City resident, something was missing. Then it happened. An epiphany hit Shadid as he was trapped inside his car under an Interstate 40 overpass during an EF-4 tornado in May 2010. He had made his fortune. It was time to give back and help others.

With no previous political experience, Shadid entered a state House election later that year but lost. Undeterred and determined to serve the public, Shadid filed for the OKC Ward 2 seat, which was being vacated by incumbent Sam Bowman.

Faced with stiff odds and opposition, Shadid prevailed with a general election win over bank officer Charlie Swinton in April 2011. Shadid received 62 percent of the vote.

“I had thought about political engagement, but I believed the stigma of being in (drug) recovery would keep me from it. But then, I saw that day (of the tornado) as life-changing. I just needed a little push, and the universe gave it to me,” he said.

Three years later, Shadid seeks the OKC mayor’s chair against three-term incumbent Mick Cornett.

“I do believe and listen when I hear Christ say that once you’ve accumulated enough money and all your needs are met, you should not work toward further accumulation of wealth,” Shadid said. “In my case, it leads to spiritual bankruptcy.”

Having overcome a marijuana addiction and a bitter divorce, Shadid said he’s now using his wealth to help others “who have no voice, especially the poor.”

Some of those personal resources are being used to largely finance his mayoral campaign, a similar strategy that was employed in the 2011 Ward 2 race. Shadid claims he won’t accept campaign contributions from special interest groups or political action committees. Candidates must file their first campaign contribution and expense reports Feb. 18-24.

City vision
As mayor, Shadid said he would focus on “maximizing public participation” in government decisions while addressing public transit needs and allocating more city money into neighborhood restoration efforts and parks.

“I want to connect and develop retail and residential [areas] around place-making investments like the Plaza District and Midtown and then connect those hubs of activity with transit, trails and sidewalks,” he said.

Shadid wants sidewalks and trails built in areas where they will be used and “not on the outer edges of the city where no one lives.”

Shadid claims several miles of sidewalks funded by MAPS 3 and a 2007 bond issue have been constructed in outlying areas with no immediate development plans.

“We’re spending all this money on something that isn’t being used by our citizens,” he said. “The money needs to be used to enhance the (inner-city) neighborhoods that have been ignored for much too long.”

Shadid said he will continue his support of most MAPS 3 projects but still has questions about the need for a new $252 million convention center and a headquarters hotel. Shadid contends the hotel, which is not a MAPS 3 project, might require a public subsidy if built.

Shadid, endorsed by the police and firefighter unions, also is a vocal advocate for more police officers and better living conditions for firefighters. In some instances, he said, firefighters are living in quarters that are decades old with structural problems.

Shadid promised to address drug abuse and addiction in OKC. Police officials said both contribute to a spike in drug and property crimes.

“We have to address the police manpower deficiency,” he said. “We’re down 250 to 300 officers, and the mayor refuses to discuss long-term solutions.”

Getting engaged
Shadid vowed to remain “engaged” with all segments of OKC, from the traditional power brokers to the less fortunate who rely on public transit buses for their transportation to and from work. Shadid contends Cornett and his supporters are most concerned about MAPS 3 projects and the downtown area.

“He’s not speaking to the council. He’s nowhere to be found until election time, and he’s refusing to debate,” the councilman claimed. “Playing it politically safe isn’t a sign of good leadership.”

Shadid touts the town hall-style meetings he has hosted across OKC as a way to inform citizens about key issues. Since announcing he would seek the mayor’s seat, Shadid and his campaign have held town hall gatherings with experts speaking on public health, transit and the MAPS 3 convention center and hotel, coupled with a campaign kickoff rally that drew several hundred people.

“This is a new phenomenon for city politics,” Shadid said of the town hall meetings. “This is one of many ways we can get more people involved in the process so they can know they are part of the decision-making process.”

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