LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Residents in Lawton's Ward 7 will head to the polls next Tuesday to vote for their new city council representative. Four candidates are in the running to replace Stanley Haywood, who passed away last summer. The council appointed Gay McGahee to fill his seat on an interim basis, and then set a special election for voters to choose who'll serve the rest of his term. Last week, the candidates appeared at city hall for a community forum to explain their platforms and to answer citizen's questions about what they'll do if elected.
The candidates running for the seat are the appointed Ward 7 Councilwoman V. Gay McGahee, Sherene L. Williams, Sheila Olsen and Jesse Cross. They are campaigning for Ward 7, one of the largest wards in Lawton, covering south of Lee and a small part of central Lawton.
The appointed Ward 7 Councilwoman McGahee has lived and worked in Ward 7 for more than 25 years. She says her short time on the council has given her an advantage in learning what the residents need.
"I see the city council as a way to be able to make a difference in people's lives on a wider scale," said McGahee.
One of McGahee's opponent Sherene L. Williams is not a stranger to running in local races after campaigning for mayor last summer. Williams wants to see ward 7 grow.
"A hotel and possible mini shops by our airport so therefore that's economic development for our youth and also for our adults," said Williams.
Also running for Ward 7, Sheila Olsen grew up in Lawton, and after retiring from the military moved with her family back to where she calls home. She says wants to keep some areas in Ward 7 from being developed.
"We have a lot of rural farmers, and that agriculture income and revenue areas are dwindling," said Olsen. "I think we need to preserve that. That is the history of a lot of Lawtonians."
The fourth candidate, president and CEO of a government contracting company Jesse Cross says he has a lot to offer his hometown after retiring from the military. Cross says he wants to help set the city's priorities so the council can move forward together.
"I want to make Lawton the city where when people come in they want to stay, the want to reside here," said Cross. "I want to make sure Lawton is safe and secure, and I want to keep Lawton a great place to raise and educate our children."
All four of the candidates say they have specific things they want to focus on if they are elected, but they all say they are running to help Ward 7.
"I believe that I have the best interests of the citizens in mind, and I would love to be able to serve them," said McGahee.
"I'm just willing to help where ever it is needed in Ward 7," said Williams.
"I'm just a concerned citizen," said Olsen. "I'm concerned for you, and I'm concerned for myself and my neighbors."
"We can make Lawton a great place to live and raise our families," said Cross.
The special election is set for February 9th, that's next Tuesday, and early voting starts this Thursday.