By BOB LEWIS
This year’s Broken Arrow City Council election turned into a political donnybrook that saw a massive amount of negative campaign advertising, the unseating of the community’s long-time mayor and an incumbent city councilor, the target of many of the “attack” ads, having a tougher than expected time in topping two challengers.
In Ward 2, Lisa Ford received 4,811 votes (59.1%) to defeat Mayor Craig Thurmond who had 3,335 votes (40.9%). Ward 1 City Councilor Debra Wimpee had 3,278 votes (40.2%) while challenger Jonathan Kelley had 2,510 votes (30.8%) and Cathy Smythe had 2,363 votes (29%).
Thurmond was first elected to the city council in 2001 and served as vice mayor from 2003-07 and for the past eight years as mayor. In addition to public service, he owns and operates his own construction management company.
Ford retired earlier this year after serving 20 years as the Broken Arrow Police Department’s Crime Prevention Specialist and Community Liaison, earning recognition as “Super Cop” and one of the community’s Top 10 Most Influential Women.
Among her community service accomplishments are leadership roles with Broken Arrow Neighbors and the Union Public Schools Board of Education. Honors collected include the inaugural Community Impact Award from the Chamber of Commerce, Citizen of the Year from the Broken Arrow Starlight Civitan Club and the Chamber’s Community Advocate of the Year.
Wimpee, who was first elected in 2017, previously owned and operated a downtown retail business and currently serves as director of two commercial real estate associations. Many people know her through fund-raising programs she created for non-profit organizations and BA Buzz, an online vehicle she created to help promote activities taking place in the city.
While city council members must live in the ward they represent, all registered voters in the city are eligible to vote on each. Elected members are eligible to serve four-year terms.
The positions of mayor and vice mayor are selected by the city councilors after each election.
In another election of local interest …
Long-time public education advocate Sharon Whelpley was re-elected to the Tulsa Technology Center Board of Education.
Whelpley had 4,383 votes (68.2%) to outdistance challenger Paul Kroutter, Jr. who had 2,046 votes (31.8%)
Whelpey’s victory extends an active involvement in education politics that dates back to 1992 when she was first elected to the Broken Arrow Public Schools board. It was a seat she held for 20 years.
During this time, she also served the Broken Arrow community by volunteering in a variety of nonprofit organizations such as the Gatesway Foundation, Tulsa Garden Center, Broken Arrow PTA, Build A Better Broken Arrow Committee and the Broken Arrow Public Schools Foundation.
By BOB LEWIS