Monday, April 05, 2010

Muskogee Politico's Picks - Muskogee Municipal Races

Muskogee Politico's Picks for Muskogee Municipal Races

  • Mayor - Bob Coburn

I personally know both Bob Coburn and current mayor John Tyler Hammons. I respect and have supported several of Hammons' initiatives during his tenure as mayor. However, it has been disappointing to see nothing of real value be accomplished in the past two years. The city council has been characterized by constant strife between the mayor and the rest of the council, with both sides at fault. Hammons has shown some immaturity in dealing with the rest of the council, and the council has shown a lack of willingness to see things in a new light. As a result, nothing has been done except bicker back and forth.

I was very excited when Bob Coburn decided to run. Bob is an outstanding gentleman - a successful small businessman and a church leader. His business credentials are exactly what Muskogee needs - far too often have I seen the Muskogee City Council pass ordinances that are stifling and unfriendly to business in the city, especially small business. Bob has been there, done that, and knows what a small business needs to operate. His wisdom gleaned from experience, and his calm, steady leadership, is just what we need to be at the helm in times like these. I endorse Bob Coburn without reservation!

  • City Council Ward III - Randy Howard

Although a candidate must reside in their respective Ward, the entire city of Muskogee votes on all city council races. Therefore, everyone will have to choose a candidate in the races for Ward III and Ward IV.

This race is rather difficult for me, as neither candidate really stands out. David Ragsdale is the current councilman, but I have not been impressed with him as the incumbent. Ragsdale has a tendency to be very wishy-washy, and has made several questionable votes (including one against allowing a new funeral home; Ragsdale owns a funeral home).

So, I will be voting for Randy Howard. Howard has done very little campaigning, and performed poorly at the Chamber of Commerce's candidate forum, but as a businessman, I feel he would bring a good perspective to his job. He is also campaigning against new tax increases - Muskogee already has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state. I'm not very enthused about this race, but since I have to pick, I go with Howard.

  • City Council Ward IV - Jim Ritchey

As tough as the previous race was for me, this one is harder. On a personal level, I like councilman Jim Ritchey. I have met Cedric Johnston a few times at council meetings, and have never met Kenny Payne.

As with nearly everyone on the city council, Ritchey has made his fair share of votes that I don't like. However, I don't know enough about the other candidates to merit dumping Ritchey. So, I will be voting for Jim Ritchey, with some reservations and hopes that he will take a new approach to another term on the council.

  • School Bond - No

This ballot question has flown under the radar, and quite frankly, caught me by surprise. In light of cuts resulting from the current state budget crisis, the Muskogee school board wants to pass another increase in the property tax, in order to free up General Fund dollars that would normally go to pay for maintenance.

I feel that this is a short-sighted approach to fixing the budget. Muskogee's school administration is very top-heavy, and they have made very poor decisions relating to administration pay raises, and/or additional superfluous positions. Rather than making cuts that are needed, they want to add to the property tax burden.

I say No, and encourage you to vote no as well. There is a smarter, more efficient way to get through this budget crisis than increasing taxes.

Don't forget to vote tomorrow! You can view locations for polling places here.


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