EDITOR’S NOTE: The Yukon Progress is profiling candidates for the Feb. 11th Ward 4 Yukon City Council election. This week we profile Ken Wilkins, a small business owner and U.S. Navy veteran. Next week we’ll hear from Eric Gilliland, a teacher and small business owner.
By Conrad Dudderar
Ken Wilkins believe his small business and military background – combined with leadership experience – would serve him well on the Yukon City Council.
That’s why he threw his hat in the ring for the next four-year term as Yukon’s Ward 4 representative.
“The city is back on stable ground financially and I want to see that continue,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins, 60, will face off at a Tuesday, Feb. 11th nonpartisan election against Aric Gilliland, 40. (Gilliland, an Epic Charter School teacher and small business owner, will be featured in an upcoming edition)
A U.S. Navy veteran who served on an aircraft carrier, Wilkins is owner of Archery Traditions of Oklahoma. He believes his leadership experience and military service would greatly benefit the City of Yukon.
“I can bring a small business perspective as well,” Wilkins said. “I think it’s good to have a diverse city council; to have people from all different areas of life with different experiences.
“I know the issues facing small businesses and see the needs of Ward 4. I believe my perspective and my experience in life as well will help make good decisions for the city.”
Wilkins is a Bethany native who graduated from Putnam City West before joining the Navy. He has lived in Yukon’s Ward 4 since 2011, when he returned to Oklahoma after seven years in Colorado.
“I’ve been very involved in the Yukon Chamber (of Commerce) since we opened our business five years ago,” Wilkins said. “I’ve tried to get as involved as I could in the community and attend the Legislative Breakfast when I have the chance.”
In January 2019, Archery Traditions was named the Yukon Chamber of Commerce “Small Business of the Year” and recently hosted a large national tournament.
“We’ve been very blessed in our business and it’s grown,” Wilkins said. “To our knowledge, we’re the largest indoor range in the state – certainly the biggest in the metro.”
VISION AND GOALS
Encouraged with plans to widen the well-traveled State Highway 4 (“that’s a big plus for the city”), the city council candidate listed another major road improvement project he’d like to see for Ward 4.
“Wagner Road is a pretty common bypass for many people coming through Yukon who want to avoid hitting all the (traffic) lights,” Wilkins said. “Wagner is really starting to deteriorate with all the heavy traffic back and forth. Seeing that road is improved is certainly something I’ll fight for if I’m elected.”
With the City of Yukon now “back on track” financially, one of Wilkins’ long-term goals is to have a central municipal complex.
“Maybe someday we can look at putting all the city offices together in a city hall,” he said. “We’re currently spread out in different buildings, even leasing properties for some city departments. I think having a centralized city hall where all the departments are together would be a benefit to the city and to the residents as well – not having to go different places for different things.”
The Ward 4 council contender wants to see continued growth and revitalization of the historic Route 66 / Main Street business district.
“For years, Garth Brooks Boulevard and the southwest part of the city have grown,” Wilkins said. “We’re starting to see growth now here on the east end with the (Wal-mart) neighborhood market, and now several other buildings and shopping centers coming in.”
Yukon must continue to embrace Route 66 as a tourist destination, he added.
“There’s a lot of people who spend vacation time traveling Route 66 and seeing the different places,” he said. “As a city, we should take advantage of that and bring in a lot of income to our city through tourism and promoting Route 66.”
A HEART FOR SERVICE
Wilkins was approached by constituents about running for a seat on the five-member Yukon City Council.
“My wife and I gave it some thought and prayer and decided this is a way for us to serve our community beyond just having a business in the city,” he said.
The Ward 4 position is held by Mayor Mike McEachern, who cannot run for re-election due to term limits.
Yukon City Council members are elected to four-year terms. The next term starts in May 2020.
Wilkins hopes he’s the choice among Ward 4 voters to start that new term.
Citing his military service background, Wilkins said he has a “heart for what we stand for as a community.” He’s proud to live in Ward 4 and own a successful small business in Yukon.
“Even though we’re connected to a large metro (city), we still have that hometown feeling,” he said.
Wilkins continues to be impressed with how many people attend the regular Friday morning community coffees sponsored by the Yukon Chamber.
“I’ve visited other chambers and they’ll have a handful a people once a month,” he said. “And we have over 100 people every week. The people who come and visit are blown away by the response.
“There’s just a real bond of people in our community. Obviously, we’re growing at a fast rate, but I hope that bond and that ‘smaller feel’ is something we never lose. Where people know and care about each other.”