By Tim Farley, News Editor – Three Ward 2 city council candidates care about the same issues affecting Yukon and they’re passionate about making life better for their neighbors.
They want lower water rates, a safer Highway 4, more trust in government and the type of transparency that makes city hall an open book. But on Tuesday, Ward 2 voters will have to make on choice which candidate will win the seat being vacated by incumbent John Alberts.
Voters will decide between Shelli Selby, Ward Larson and Erick Westfahl. If none of the candidates receive more than 50 percent of the primary election vote, the top two vote getters will advance to a general election April 3. Voting begins at 7 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m.
Earlier this week, the trio of candidates had a chance to sway voters at Spanish Cove Retirement Village.
Selby, a former employee at Spanish Cove, told the crowd, “You are a big part of Ward 2. I complain a lot about things in this city, so I decided I needed to run for the council.”
Selby said expects transparency in local government and doesn’t want a repeat of the scandal that rocked Yukon when then-City Manager Grayson Bottom was accused of misappropriating money and violating the state’s bidding requirements.
“There needs to be some checks and balances,” she said. “When you go to city council meetings, they last about five minutes. Most of their discussion occurs in a workshop before the meeting. I want to hear that discussion.”
Work sessions are held at 6 p.m. before the 7 p.m. council meetings, but no formal votes are taken and no consensus among council members is reached. The work sessions are considered public meetings and are open to Yukon residents.
“I want to know more about what’s going on and what the city council is doing,” Selby said.
Selby complained about the number of years it has taken to get the State Highway 4 project moving forward. She also suggested city officials are giving the Frisco Road-
Interstate interchange project more consideration over Highway 4 because it will create more business opportunities.
“Why is it taking 30 years to get it done?” she asked. “The city probably doesn’t want me to win because I ask so many questions.”
Meanwhile, Larson stressed his previous city council experience when he served two terms beginning in 2003. He lost a re-election bid to Alberts.
Larson was also critical of Bottom and the financial irregularities law enforcement officials have investigated.
“I want to see Bottom pay for what he did,” Larson said.
Larson explained to the audience that Highway 4 has been stalled over the years because of easement negotiations, available state and local funding and utility relocation costs.
Larson said he wants to develop ideas to increase Yukon’s sales tax revenue and to find ways to bring additional water to Yukon without depending on Oklahoma City. About 55 to 60 percent of Yukon’s water comes from Oklahoma City, city officials have said.
“The water costs from Oklahoma City have risen to 55 percent and more is coming,” Larson said. “We have a number of challenges in front of us and I would appreciate your vote on Tuesday.”
Erick Wesfahl, the youngest of the three candidates, referred to Spanish Cove as the “heart and soul of not only Ward 2, but of Yukon.”
Westfahl, an employee in his family’s construction company, touted his experience in construction management and said his background would assist Yukon with its many projects.
Westfahl talked about public safety and the challenges Yukon faces.
“With growth you will find it brings some safety concerns,” he said. “We need to create a safer atmosphere.”
Like his opponents, Westfahl mentioned Highway 4 and the reconstruction project.
“This must be a priority and I would encourage Oklahoma City to do their part,” he said. “I would the city (Yukon) to go to four lanes. You won’t improve safety with just a two-lane road. There should also be safety guards on the side of the highway.”
Westfahl complimented the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for its work.
“We want to encourage young people and young families to move here and this is one way to do that. We really want to promote our parks.”