Oklahomans decide bond issues, millages and city posts

Wednesday, April 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Residents in an unincorporated eastern Oklahoma town will keep their school district, but incumbent leaders in Oklahoma City, Broken Arrow and Taft will lose their jobs.

Three millage questions in Leonard passed with more than 64 percent of the vote on Tuesday. Voters approved a special question, making the millages permanent. A month ago, those levies were defeated, imperiling the future of the southern Tulsa County school district.

``My parents love having their kids here,'' said Terry West, superintendent of the 63-student school district. ``We don't have football, but we have class. We don't have drugs; we don't have fights.''

In the Pioneer-Pleasant Vale district, a $2.5 million bond issue for construction received more ``yes'' than ``no'' votes, but it was not enough for the 60 percent needed for passage.

Superintendent Bill Noak said the money would have gone for a new gymnasium, a pitched roof on the high school, expansion of the elementary school cafeteria and conversion of old dressing rooms into science classrooms.

Patrons in the districts of Choctaw-Nicoma, Claremore, Clinton, Haskell, Newcastle, Noble, Oktaha and Western Heights in Oklahoma City approved bond issues, while voters in Guymon, North Rock Creek and Okemah approved school millages.

All of Guymon's millages passed with more than 89 percent of the vote, while Okemah's millages were approved with more than 80 percent of the vote.

Oktaha schools will use $275,000 from the bonds to expand the school gym built in 1969 and to add retractable seating on both sides of the gym.

``The community has always been good to us,'' said Jerry Needham, superintendent of the east-central Oklahoma school district. ``I think it shows a lot of people are involved and care about our schools.''

Voters kept some incumbents and went with new faces in city council and mayoral races.

In Oklahoma City, incumbent Ward 4 Coucilwoman Frances Lowrey, 72, lost to challenger Brent Rinehart, 36, on a vote of 1,154 to 1,135, unofficial totals from the Oklahoma County Election Board showed.

``I thank God for giving me the direction, the strength and the courage to be in this race,'' Rinehart said.

Lowrey said her campaign would double-check the results, which showed only a 19-vote difference.

``I am disappointed,'' she said. ``I am shocked. And I am worried about Oklahoma City's future.''

In central Oklahoma, incumbent El Reno Mayor James A. Moore won his second three-year term, but incumbent Guthrie Mayor Evelyn Nephew lost to Jon Gumerson.

In eastern Oklahoma, Taft voters ousted Mayor Lelia Davis, who had held the post for 16 years. Broken Arrow re-elected one city councilor and voted out another.

Incumbent Richard M. Carter retained his Ward 1 seat, while Ward 2 Councilor Ronald Whitaker lost to challenger Craig Thurmond.

In Okmulgee, Mayor Ron Ballard lost to challenger Bill Wilbourn and City Councilor Mary Jones Brogan lost her seat to Gerald Bivins Sr.

Voters in the Oklahoma County town of Jones defeated a $210,000 bond issue to finance that city's portion of $2.5 million in construction costs for rebuilding the Hogback Bridge.

State transportation commissioners voted in January to give the county $750,000 to rebuild the bridge, which connects residents in the northeast part of the county.

The proposed bond issue would have added about $30 to $35 annually to property taxes on a $50,000 home, Jones Mayor Bill Hoag said.

The bridge has been closed since October because of considerable deterioration.