City of Lawton is heading to the polls Sept. 12, this is your pre-election coverage

The election will be held on Sept. 12, 2023
The election will be held on Sept. 12, 2023(WTOK)
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 4:09 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Lawton voters will go to the polls on Sept. 12, 2023, to decide who will represent them in Ward 7 and 8, while also deciding if the Ad Valorem Tax should be extended.

Candidates for Ward 8

There are three candidates running to represent Ward 8 in Lawton City Council. In this race, incumbent Randy Warren is defending against challengers Malden Smith and Carolyn Shyne.

Warren is running to be reelected to the Ward 8 Council Representative seat for the City of Lawton. Warren says who is impacted by the council’s decisions has been the focus of his community service for Lawton. Warren has been a fixture in the City of Lawton since the 60s’ as a student at the then-Eisenhower Junior High and he is also a Cameron graduate.

Warren says he knows he has just three years before term limits kick in, but there are some things he still wants to see finished before he can no longer serve on the council.

“Sidewalks, aquatics, roads of course, that’s a long-term deal and I want to make sure that we get started on the right foot,” Warren said.

Warren would also like to add a Veterans walkway to Lawton because he feels like we could do a better job honoring all the Soldiers who have served. You can read more about Randy Warren here.

Malden Smith is also running for the Ward 8 spot on Lawton’s City Council. He first arrived in Lawton in 1991 for basic training on Fort Sill. After he retired, he and his wife became more involved with the community. Smith said the more he got involved, the more he wanted to take the next step in supporting his neighbors.

“It just kind of transitioned into me wanting to do something more than what we were doing for the community, as far as the neighborhood watch was involved. But I’m trying to elevate it for her, myself, the neighbors we know, and everybody in the community,” said Smith.

Smith believes Ward 8′s biggest problem is not everyone there is being made aware of decisions happening in city council meetings. You can read more about Malden Smith here.

Carolyn Shyne is the third and last person running to be the next Ward 8 council representative for the City of Lawton. Shyne moved to Lawton three years ago from California. She said everywhere she’s lived, she’s seen needs from people in the community.

Shyne, a mother of three who has retired after working 38 years as a nurse, security guard, and at a lighting company, says she wants to be there for people. She believes one of the biggest issues facing the citizens of Lawton are the streets.

“I’ve heard that they were gonna repair some of them, and it takes time, a little at a time, but so that nobody is forgetting to help, to do something about it. Hopefully, we can all work together work things out,” Shyne said.

She said she’s attended several Lawton city council meetings and likes what the city is doing with the community centers. Shyne said while living in California, her advocacy led to streets being repaired, crosswalks being added, and septic tanks being cleaned. She hopes to keep that momentum if elected. You can read more about Carolyn Shyne here.

Candidates for Ward 7

There are four candidates running for the Ward 7 seat on Lawton City Council, Incumbent Onreka Johnson is facing challengers Cindy Edgar, Christal Thompkins and Sherene L. Williams.

Incumbent Onreka Johnson, running to be reelected to the Ward 7 seat in Lawton’s city council. Johnson said she’s running for re-election because she hopes to continue the work she’s already started. She added that the reason she decided to run for Ward 7 again is to continue being a bridge between the citizens and the city.

“One of the things I wanted to make sure is the things I started, I could finish. Not only to finish while I’m in the seat, but I like to leave a long-lasting foundation of work that is beneficial to the community,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the issues facing Ward 7 have been long-standing, and those existed prior to her holding the seat. She goes on to say if she is re-elected, she’s going to continue the work that she’s already set in motion. You can read more about Onreka Johnson here.

Christal Thompkins is one of the challengers running for the Ward 7 seat. She said Lawton became her home in 1992. Thompkins shared what made her step up and run for council.

“I got involved with the local activists, and it inspired me. I realized that if I spoke up and said something, things do change,” Thompkins said.

Thompkins added that her main goal is to be efficient while communicating with people about the decisions city council makes. You can read more about Christal Thompkins here.

Cindy Edgar is one of the challengers for the Ward 7 seat. If elected, the retired wife, mother and grandmother would represent one of the city’s largest wards. Edgar has lived in Lawton for 5 years, she explained why she’s vying for the Ward 7 spot.

“I want to be that voice for the people in my ward that don’t have that voice,” Edgar said. “I want them to be able to come to me, and talk to me and voice any opinion that they need to voice.”

You can read more about Cindy Edgar here.

Lawton native Sherene L. Williams is another challenger for the Ward 7 seat on Lawton City’s Council. Williams is a retired Lieutenant Colonel with several degrees, she said her upbringing inspired her to join the race. She touched on some of the biggest issues she’s noticed in Ward 7.

“The roads, the sidewalks, we have opportunities as far as trying to fix those streets, the sidewalks and different things like that,” Williams said. “My plan is to meet with the citizens and to continue to get more feedback.”

She continued on, saying getting community feedback is the first thing on her to-do list if elected. You can read more about Sherene L. Williams here.

Ad Valorem Tax Proposition

Along with city council elections, there will also be a vote for Lawton citizens to extend 2017′s Ad Valorem tax for an estimated 11 years. The Ad Valorem tax is taken from property tax the city uses for building, and in this case, for road restoration.

According to city officials, including bridge renovations in the budget is the biggest difference from the original tax extension. Mayor Booker said these bridges need renovations, especially because they affect the routes of the heavier city vehicles like fire engines and garbage trucks.

“Extending the tax gives us the opportunity to address more issues without raising the tax,” added Mayor Booker. “None of us want to raise taxes. That’s why we extend the tax instead of raise the tax. It worked very well with propel.”

However there are people who are against this extension.

“It needs to be specified what these projects are because I have a feeling we’re going to be paying for the same projects that have not been completed,” said Shane Grimes, a concerned citizen.

You can read more about the tax proposition here.