By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Eldon Stephens, a former city of Enid employee, is a candidate for the City Commission Ward 3 position, fulfilling a promise to run when he retired from the city.
Stephens said he is concerned with a number of things that have happened in Enid during the past few years, and he hopes to change the direction of the city.
“Even the new conference center, which didn’t pass, shouldn’t have been built,” Stephens said. “Now, with extra costs, we’re going into debt. I remember seven or eight years ago, when the city was facing financial stress. Who did they take it out on? They took it out on the workers. I don’t want to see that happen again.”
There are a number of streets in Enid that are in dire need of repair that are not being fixed, he said. One in particular is a cross-street between Chestnut and Pine, which is in extremely poor shape. Stephens said the street was done by a contractor who did a poor job, and the city did not hold the contractor responsible. Several motorcyclists and bicyclists have had problems with the street, and it needs to be examined, he said.
Stephens also commented on the proposed new park system, saying it needs more study. The park will result in an increase in liability insurance. In addition, 30th street is a truck route, and children will be crossing the street to get to the park. He wants money spent on existing parks.
Stephens opposes the parks plan and thinks an election should be held. If approval fails, that should be the end of it. An election has been scheduled by the city in March.
“I don’t support it,” Stephens said. “There is way too much money on the books now. If something happens in the oil field and the economy crashes, it will be a bad situation. Sales taxes are up now, driven by oil field economy, and it’s great, but when it crashes, it’s terrible.”
Stephens said city administrative offices continue to be added to, and there is no reason why the city needs a public relations officer making $75,000 a year.
“The city should not be in the real estate business, such as the purchase of the old Homeland building,” he said. “That should have been done by a private business, not the city thinking they had someone to buy it, and that fell through.”
Stephens said public service runs in his family. His mother worked in civil service her entire career, and his father worked for the city. Stephens worked for the city for 23 years. He said he was a heavy equipment operator and could have worked in the oil field for more money.
Stephens wants to see the city trying to attract jobs, so the city’s largest export is not its young people.
Stephens is a full-time student at Northwestern Oklahoma State University-Enid, and graduated from Northern Oklahoma College. In the future, he plans to be either a full-time drug and alcohol counselor or a teacher. His wife also is attending Northwestern, and his daughter is attending NOC Tonkawa.
The city should pay more attention to the universities in town, he said.
Another issue on Stephens’ mind is animal control. He said the employees in that department do a good job, but there are only four of them to cover all of Enid. He said the department is spread too thin for a town the size of Enid, and needs to be expanded. He also questions the recent sign ordinance. Stephens said he has heard a number of business owners complaining about it, and wants to take another look at it to determine whether it is too restrictive.
“If I’m elected, my phone will always be available for anyone to call, and my email will be there for them,” he said. “I believe (the) city councilman should be the voice of his ward, his constituents, and my phone will always be available, no matter what the issue is.”
Stephens believes his 23 years of experience give him an inside look at city operations, one that someone on the outside doesn’t see. He wants to look at returning to twice-a-week trash pickup and see how much more it would cost the citizens, and if they would be willing to pay it.
“In the summertime, those trash cans get to smelling pretty bad,” he said.
Stephens worked in the solid waste and landfill departments while employed by the city.
The other candidate for Ward 3 is Ben Ezzell. The election will be Feb. 12. Voting will be by ward.