The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 6, 2012

Enid restaurateur seeks commission seat

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid restaurateur Mickey De La Cruz hopes he can cook up a recipe for success as a Ward 6 Enid City Commission candidate.

“I’m running ... it’s time, I think for the voice of Enid’s people to be heard,” he said. “My dealing with the city has made me think there could be a better way of doing things.”

De La Cruz is running for the Ward 6 seat along with Joey Meibergen III and David W. Vanhooser. The election will be Feb. 12.

De La Cruz said his customers talk to him about many things, including the quality of life in Enid and what it is like to live here. According to what his customers tell him, the city does not seem to have any of the answers those people need, and he said his dealings with the city are the same way.

“They don’t address us directly with regard to questions and in their dealings,” he said.

Residents are confused about how some expenditures have happened and how some decisions have been made about financing buildings and purchases, he said.

De La Cruz has been in business for nearly nine years, as an owner of Panevino Wine and Tapas Bar. He said Enid is a good place for business. His wife’s family is from Enid, he said, and she believes strongly people would benefit from the type of business they were bringing in. In the time frame since he has been here, De La Cruz’s mother and two older daughters have moved to Enid from Las Vegas.

“Enid is becoming more of the city I thought it would be. We still have a ways to go, infrastructure still needs attention, and what do we do in the future to attract more families like mine to the Enid area?” he said.

De La Cruz has been meeting with people to help in his campaign and hopes to set himself apart from the two other Ward 6 candidates. De La Cruz was born in New Jersey and raised in Las Vegas. He moved here just over nine years ago to open his restaurant.

He has not taken a position on some of the bigger items being considered by the commission, because he has not been exposed to them.

De La Cruz has not seen the city’s $50 million parks and recreation plan and has no opinion regarding it. He would like to spend some time studying the plan before making a decision.

“We definitely need to make sure everything is done right going forward; costs kept to what is initially set aside. We’re doing too much over-running and going way beyond what we were told in the first place,” he said.

As a business owner and operator, he wants to look at what it will take to keep Enid viable for new residents in the future.

“We need to look at small businesses, like my size and smaller. What are we doing to help them become part of the community and get their word out?” he said.

There is a new candy store downtown and he said most of the people he tells about it do not know where it is. He wondered how business openings can be announced using either a newsletter or the city’s website. He said it is a legitimate function of the city to make sure residents have the information they need.

“It’s not a subsidy, we’re not asking for a check. The city knows because they have to file for licenses. Why not post it on their website, saying there is a new business here? It’s more about being informative,” he said.

De La Cruz and other caterers were involved in an issue with the city over use of Convention Hall. That issue has been resolved, he said. Global Spectrum, which manages the facility, does not have exclusive rights, but other caterers have to pay a fee and must use Global Spectrums tablecloths and other items. Caterers can use their own food, but any liquor must be Global Spectrum’s, he said. De La Cruz said that fight is not why he is running.

“I want to make sure if something comes up again in the future, we look at it with a different set of eyes,” he said. “I don’t think the city adequately shares information. They love to talk about the big things, like the convention center, but every day people in Enid want to start a new business. We don’t see the same drive from the city to get behind those businesses.

“If you add my employees and someone else’s employees together, it reaches 100 pretty quick,” he said. “We have an investment here, we live here.”