By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid voters selected three new city commissioners Tuesday for wards 3, 4 and 6.
Ben Ezzell will assume the Ward 3 seat, Rodney Timm will serve in Ward 4, and Dr. David Vanhooser won the Ward 6 seat.
The three new commissioners will be sworn in during the commission’s first meeting in May.
Ezzell defeated former city of Enid employee Eldon Stephens by a margin of 64.3 percent to 35.7 percent, 148 votes to 82.
Ezzell offered thanks to his supporters, and to his opponent.
“Thanks to everyone who has helped me, especially my family,” Ezzell said. “I am excited and honored, and looking forward to serving.”
“I’d also like to thank Eldon (Stephens) for running a fair campaign,” Ezzell added. He complimented Stephens for “getting out and talking to the people” and running a “nice, civil campaign.”
Ezzell said now is an “exciting time to be in Enid, and an especially exciting time to be involved with the Enid City Commission.”
“Enid is growing, and having an opportunity to serve in these growth years in especially exciting,” Ezzell said. “My folks both served on the city commission during harder years. Now, our budget is doing well, we have a bright future and we can see Enid through a very exciting next few years.”
Stephens congratulated Ezzell on the win, and offered some advice.
“I hope he listens to his constituents in his ward, and votes with what the majority of the people in his ward want, and not be a rubber-stamper for the city administration,” Stephens said.
Stephens said two recent surgeries hurt his campaign, and he plans to run for city commission again in four years.
Timm defeated former commissioner Loyd Kaufman by a margin of 71.5 percent to 28.5 percent. Votes tallied were 188 for Timm and 75 for Kaufman.
Timm said he was “really excited” to win the election, and he’s looking forward to “getting my feet wet and learning the system.”
“I’m thrilled the people supported me, and I’m going to take the time and effort to take their support and work for them, and make them proud of me,” Timm said. “I’m just ready to get to work.”
Kaufman said he wished he could have won the election, but said he thinks Timm will make a good commissioner.
“He’ll make a good deal down there,” Kaufman said of Timm. “He seems pretty-well honest and forthright.”
Kaufman said the city commission needs to “pay more attention to the people of the city if they want to get more cooperation out the citizens.”
“Enid is a good town, I just think some people down there have been given some bad advice,” Kaufman said. “Eric Benson is a good city manager. I’ve always thought he was a good manager. But, he does what the commissioners tell him to do.”
Kaufman said he hopes the Quality of Life Initiative, or parks plan, passes on March 5.
“I hope that parks plan passes, and I hope they spend the money on what they said they were going to use it for,” Kaufman said.
Voters in Ward 6 handed Vanhooser an outright victory, with 52.5 percent of the total votes cast. Joey Meibergen followed with 34.1 percent of the vote, and Mickey De La Cruz with 13.4 percent.
Ward 6 vote totals were: Vanhooser, 586; De La Cruz, 149; Meibergen, 381.
Vanhooser said he was “very pleased” with the election outcome.
“I was very pleased with the number of votes,” Vanhooser said. “It shows how much interest there was in this election.”
Vanhooser thanked the voters for their support, and Meibergen and De La Cruz for “running a clean campaign.”
“Now, the work begins,” Vanhooser said. “We have to get out there and do the things we talked about.”
Vanhooser said the first priority after he’s sworn in will be addressing the outcome of the March 5 parks plan vote.
“If it’s voted in, we’ll have to stay on top of it and make sure the people get what they voted for,” Vanhooser said. “If not, we’ll have to see what we can do to repair what we have.”
Vanhooser said other pressing issues include the downtown hotel project and addressing the city’s water needs in an ongoing drought.
Meibergen congratulated Vanhooser on the win, and said he’s “very proud of Ward 6 and the city of Enid, and the interest everyone had in the election.”
“Everyone ran a good campaign, and as it was said over and over again, we couldn’t go wrong with any of us,” Meibergen said. “I think he (Vanhooser) will do a fine job.”
Meibergen said he’s looking forward to working with Vanhooser to identify and address issues for Ward 6.
De La Cruz also said he’s looking forward to offering counsel to Vanhooser.
“I think everything went great, and David (Vanhooser) did a great job with the campaign,” De La Cruz said. “He addressed the issues and was right on the money, and I think we’ll do great with him as a commissioner.”
“I’m happy I ran a clean, even campaign, and I feel good about myself,” De La Cruz said.
Low voter turnout
Tuesday’s snowy weather likely played a role in low turnout rates at the polls.
Ward 3 had the lowest voter turnout for the election, with 230 voters casting ballots by mail, at in-person absentee voting and at the polls Tuesday.
That turnout accounted for only 8.3 percent of the ward’s 2,742 registered voters.
Ward 4 registered only slightly more turnout for the election, with 8.5 percent of the ward’s voters, 263 out of 3,088 registered voters, casting ballots.
Ward 6 performed at better than twice the voter turnout in the other wards, with more than one in five voters participating in the election. Of the ward’s 5,289 registered voters 1,116 cast ballots in the election, for a turnout rate of 21.1 percent.