Lawton_This week we've giving you a chance to meet some of the candidates running for city council. Thursday night we wrap up with the final three candidates running in Ward 5. The candidates for Ward 5 are the incumbent Bob Shanklin, who has 28 years serving in Lawton city government, and his competitors Garrett Jackson and Joseph McLane.
Bob Shanklin says he has a history of voting conservatively when it comes to taxes -- making sure his constituents' tax money is being spent responsibly, without dipping further into their pockets. "I'm a watchdog over our money," Shanklin said. "I don't want to see us spend money that's not necessary. We have to pay to get into Lawton and pay to get out."
He says many of the reasons the council can't keep ahead of problems in the city -- like failing roads and abandoned buildings -- is because of the constant tight budget. "We just don't have the bucks that the rest of the cities have in Oklahoma," he said. "We spend around $500 a citizen for every an woman and child that's in our budget. There are towns that have $1,800. Norman has $1,300, over twice what ours are. And actually their cities are going to look better than ours are."
Candidate Garrett Jackson says he's also interested in making every tax dollar stretch -- but he says the city is already doing that by keeping some big projects in-house, like the sewer rehabilitation. "The taxpayers are going to save multi-million dollars by keeping things in house," Jackson said. "I think in the future we need to include internal works to improve the quality of life. And that's where the profit is made."
He says one of the best ways to make the budget stretch is to listen to the constituents and take ideas from more than just the 8 members sitting on council.
"Let's ask the people who are out there working on the sewer rehab, they saved us multi-millions of dollars by keeping things in house," he said. "What other ideas do they have? Let's listen to our people who are working on the ground... So I think that our city employees can help us sve a lot of money and bring up a lot of issues."
Candidate Joseph McLane says one of his main focuses will be increasing tourism in Lawton, which will also help boost the local economy. So he says the first step would be to improve the bus system. "Like our bus station over here, I don't know if you've looked at it, but people coming into town, they don't have a ride, they're sitting out on the curb, there's not a bathroom, there's nothing," McLane said. "We need tourism. We have lots ot see in the area, nobody comes much."
He says improving transit around town will also help low income workers get to and from work -- even during odd hours. "If you expand their mobility, you expand their possibilities for jobs, which helps them not be income too," he said.
The city council election is next Tuesday, December 11th. You can count on us to bring you the results as they come in that night, and we'll have reactions from the winners, too.
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