ENID, Okla. —
Two Enid men have announced they will run for open city commission seats.
The filing period opens at 8 a.m. Monday and closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Enid native Ben Ezzell said he will be a candidate for the Ward 3 seat, while businessman Joey Meibergen said he will file for the Ward 6 position.
Seats in Wards 3, 4 and 6 are open this year. Lewis Blackburn is the incumbent in Ward 3, Drew Ritchie is the Ward 4 commissioner and Todd Ging is commissioner in Ward 6. Blackburn and Ritchie said they will not seek new terms, and Ging is term-limited. The election will be Feb. 12.
No one has announced as a candidate for the Ward 4 seat yet.
“This is an exciting time for Enid,” Ezzell said. “Anyone would be thrilled to be involved with what’s going on. It’s an exciting time to be involved.”
The city needs to work on its parks, he said.
“We need to replace facilities, and it will take a fair chunk of change to do it,” Ezzell said.
City officials have introduced a plan to renovate neighborhood parks and build new parks. The work would be phased in over a 10-year period at an estimated cost of $50 million. The project would be financed by a 20-year extension of general obligation bond issue approved for bridge work and a five-year, half-cent increase in sales tax.
Ezzell said the financing option gives the city flexibility.
“I’m a bankruptcy lawyer, and I’m aware that plans don’t often happen the way we expect,” he said. “We need to plan for that, but we have to plan and avoid bad situations.”
Ezzell said there has been a failure to maintain the city infrastructure during the past 20 years, which is why the city has failed to keep up parks.
During the next 10 years another large issue will be water. After facing water rationing this past summer in part because of the extended drought, Ezzell said people must realize we may face that situation every year. Enid needs to establish a plan to prevent sudden shortages, he said.
He also cautioned about riding the good times from the oil boom without planning for the eventual bust.
“We live in an oil- and gas-rich area, and our tax base will change when that changes. No one knows how long it will last,” he said.
“We have to continue to develop Enid and grow the tax base so we can fund future issues as they arise,” he said. “The better funded you are, the easier to handle things that just pop up.”
He said he is confident Enid will continue to do well because of the number of successful industries already here. Both of his parents also served on the city commission. His father, David, served two terms, and his mother, Cheri, served one term. Ezzell has lived in Enid all of his life, except during his undergraduate studies at Willamette University in Salem, Ore. He recently obtained his law degree from the University of Oklahoma School of Law.