The 2022 political season began early in OKC, as voters will decide this month whether to give Mayor David Holt a second four-year term or hand the city’s top elective office to one of three challengers.
Residents will cast their votes Feb. 8 in the city’s nonpartisan mayoral primary. If no candidate receives a majority, the top two will enter an April 5 runoff for the job.
The mayor’s office is part-time and includes such duties as presiding over an eight-member, nonpartisan city council.
Holt, 42, led a successful campaign in 2019 to pass MAPS 4, financed by a 1-cent sales tax. Holt says he’s seeking a second term to continue addressing housing affordability, public transit, beautification of public spaces and upgrades to core services and city streets.
Also running are Carol Hefner, 60, vice president of her family-owned real estate firm and the former co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign in Oklahoma; Frank Urbanic, 41, an attorney and combat veteran; and Jimmy Lawson, 42, an economics professor and a director at the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission.
For more information on the Oklahoma City mayoral election, go to okc.gov/government/mayor.
1. DAVID HOLT
The eight-year MAPS 4 improvements package that voters passed with about 72% approval in December 2019 addresses what the city’s website terms “16 critical challenges and opportunities.”
Among the improvements are construction of a state fairgrounds coliseum and a multipurpose stadium for soccer and other events, and programs to address homelessness, addiction and mental health; and improving parks, recreation facilities and trails.
Holt also mentions his working relationship with Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, based on their 20-year friendship.
“The first thing we wanted to do was set a different tone,” Holt said recently of his relationship with Bynum. “We wanted to demonstrate that Oklahoma City and Tulsa could work together. We went out of our way to demonstrate that in a symbolic way – then when COVID hit, working together saved lives.”
2. CAROL HEFNER
Carol Hefner is an officer in three local companies, and was the former Fundraising Chairman for the Oklahoma Republican Party.
Hefner, who describes herself as the “only conservative Christian in the race,” says she is running to return Oklahoma City “to the Christian conservative roots on which the city was founded.”
She says that as mayor, she would carry out the constitutional duties of government, to protect life, liberty and property.
“That is the function of government – no more, no less,” she says.
3. JIMMY LAWSON
Jimmy Lawson is director of permitting at the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission and is a finance professor at Rose State College. Lawson says he’s running because a person’s political affiliation shouldn’t determine the “level of access to resources and services.”
He says that if elected, he will seek to address criminal justice reform, homelessness, and educational resources for our youth. He also says that as mayor, he will always “put the needs of the people over politics.”
Lawson also demonstrated on behalf of Julius Jones, whose death sentence was commuted to life without parole by Gov. Kevin Stitt last year.
4. FRANK URBANIC
Frank Urbanic says that if elected, he will respect citizens’ rights and freedoms. As an attorney, Urbanic filed a lawsuit on behalf of bar and restaurant owners to halt an 11 p.m. curfew early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, Urbanic says he would seek to shut down the Oklahoma City Streetcar, which he says is costing the city close to $5 million annually and is under-utilized.
“That money could be better spent elsewhere,” he says, suggesting road repairs.
He would address homelessness by looking at successful programs in other cities and getting homeless people into housing so that other problems can be addressed.