OKC VeloCity | Prepare to vote in Nov. 6 elections

Prepare to vote in Nov. 6 elections

By Kaylee Terracina / Policy / October 10, 2018

Election season is upon us – are you ready to make your voice heard? The deadline to register to vote is Friday, Oct. 12. Take the time today to confirm your voter registration using the Oklahoma State Election Board’s online voter tool, where you can also find your polling place and request an absentee ballot.

Oklahomans who are already registered to vote can now update their registration information online, including updates to residential address, mailing address and party affiliation. If you are not registered, voter registration applications are available at your County Election Board, post offices, tag agencies, libraries and online. Submit your application or any updates by 5 p.m. on Oct. 12 to make sure you can exercise your right to vote on Nov. 6.

The Nov. 6 ballot will be full of important elections at every level of government, including five state questions and a special election to elect Oklahoma City’s next Ward 7 representative. Ward 7 candidates Nikki Nice and Kirk Pankratz earned the most votes in the primary special election and will stand for a decisive runoff election on Nov. 6.

Candidates for City Council

While the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber does not endorse candidates for any city office, the Chamber surveyed both Nice and Pankratz to learn more about their vision for Oklahoma City’s future. Read on for an overview of their positions on regional transit, economic development and more.

Nikki Nice
Communications journalist with Perry Publishing and Broadcasting

VeloCity: If elected to City Council, what will be your top priorities?  

Nice: My top priorities will be centered around economic and community development. My plan is to utilize the City’s economic incentives and tools to recruit quality employers and jobs to Ward 7.  I would also like to strengthen and beautify neighborhoods within the ward.  I believe programs like the City’s Strong Neighborhood Initiative would restore pride in some of our areas within the ward like Carverdale and Spencer.  I would also like to address education as a councilwoman by utilizing the City’s resources to establish more before and after school programs designed to improve reading, math and science scores for our children.

What do you think the city’s role should be in education, specifically as it relates to Oklahoma City Public Schools?

I believe the City should do everything within its purview to assist Oklahoma City Public Schools. I would like to implement more programs designed to improve the reading and math scores and programs like those that feed children during summers and on weekends. I believe this will improve student achievement. If unable to achieve those sorts of programs, we should be actively supporting our schools any way possible. Currently, the City Council cannot do much to increase teacher pay, but I am willing to explore any possibilities that would allow the City to address that matter. I recognize the key to the future of our City and state is a healthy public education system, and I am committed to the future of Oklahoma City!

Kirk Pankratz
Founding pastor of Church of the Harvest

VeloCity: If elected to City Council, what will be your top priorities?  

If elected, my top three priorities will be:

  1. Economic Development to Benefit Residents
  2. Partnerships for Public Schools & Students
  3. Transforming the Narrative About Northeast OKC

Envisioning economic development in Ward 7 would include attracting at least one to two large employers to relocate or expand while providing incentives and addressing hindrances in order for this to happen. I want to seek developers and lenders to invest in a unique economic district, yet to be named, in the northeast corridor (Northeast 13th, 23rd and 36th Street areas) with access from the downtown core of consumers from the innovation district or Capitol district. Additionally, I will work to see progress in the Adventure District and Frontier City area. Finally, I want to work to provide minority-ownership opportunities and services in the process.

Establishing partnerships with Oklahoma City Ward 7 schools and students would include forming relationships with businesses, churches and non-profit organizations across the OKC metro. I want to initiate an internship program for high school students with OKC businesses and community partners. This early engagement with students will help to inspire them to complete their education for career opportunities plus provide another tier of mentors in their lives. The more businesses and community partners invest relationally with students and schools, the more commitment to Ward 7 progress will occur, especially in economically-challenged areas.

Transforming the narrative about northeast OKC begins with creating a new brand identity and campaign. I will work to establish branding that reflects the heart of the northeast community. Part of this process will include safer neighborhood initiatives and stronger relationships with the OKC police department. It will also include improving infrastructure needs and upgrading blighted areas.

What do you think the city’s role should be in education, specifically as it relates to Oklahoma City Public Schools?

The progress of Oklahoma City over the past several years has been fascinating to watch. The willingness of our city residents to embrace the MAPS for Kids project and to build or remodel numerous school facilities has been inspiring. My desire is for us to finish the dream of a great school system that has been started.

My background has included leading hundreds of volunteers in mentoring relationships with students from the northeast corridor for many years. It’s clear there are multiple layers of challenges to overcome in order to provide the best learning experience possible for students of all ethnicities.

While OKCPS is its own separate entity, I believe there are numerous ways we can come alongside this school system and other school systems in our community that can make a significant difference and turnaround story. Some of those include:

  1. Provide high school student internships with OKC businesses & community partners
  2. Encourage individual school resource partnerships from the business and private sector
  3. Explore new funds to invest in classrooms and students
  4. Explore equity-based models to support for maximum progress
  5. Enhance pre-school & head start programs so children are school-ready
  6. Recruit high-capacity teachers in partnership with school systems
  7. Coordinate with all non-profit entities involved to maximize their efforts

While all of these ideas may not be in the scope of city government or the chamber of commerce, these are all initiatives I am interested in engaging if elected to OKC City Council.

Please explain why you do not support eminent domain to acquire private property to facilitate the implementation of future MAPS projects.

Northeast OKC residents have had extremely negative experiences with the use of eminent domain in their history. Regarding its use in a MAPS project, it would need to be an extreme and rare case for me to consider a different response.

Total Votes: 76 Avg Vote: 1