Incumbents lose Council seats
Two City Council incumbents lost their seats Tuesday, while a third faces a runoff election with one of his three challengers.
Candidates for the Wards 6, 7 and 8 City Council representatives were on the ballots, as constituents went to the polls to decide which ones they wanted to represent them for the three-year term that begins Jan. 8, 2018. In Wards 6 and 7, the answer was the challengers: Ward 6 Councilwoman Cherry Phillips and Ward 7 Councilwoman V. Gay F. McGahee, both first-term council members, lost their bids for re-election.
In Ward 6, Sean Fortenbaugh, who lost a runoff election to Phillips in 2014, won the seat Tuesday, taking 509 votes or 61.47 percent of the total cast. Phillips won 319 votes, or 38.53 percent.
Fortenbaugh, a U.S. Army warrant officer who now owns four Marco's Pizza restaurants, was pleased with the results and the interest of voters.
"This election, I saw a lot of people come out of the woodwork, who, concerned about the city, went out and registered to vote," he said. "I appreciate all the people that voted for me."
Fortenbaugh said among his first tasks as councilman is focusing attention on city employees and city services.
"Right off the bat, we need to look at how we treat city employees, police officers and firefighters," he said. "We need to get our focus back on essential city services, water, all the things that the city provides."
Phillips, a Lawton business-woman who runs Fit For Life, an exercise studio for adults, said she had dual disappointments in her quest for a second term.
"I'm very disappointed, and very disappointed in the voter turnout," she said. "I'm very disappointed that I won't get to serve the next term, and I wish him well. It can be a very satisfying position and I hope he works hard at it and makes the people of the ward happy. Sometimes it will happen and sometimes it won't.
"We'll move on and hopefully the ward will do well, too."
In Ward 7, Onreka Givens Johnson edged out McGahee to win the seat. Johnson won 262 votes, or 50.78 percent of the total cast, compared to the 254 votes (or 49.22 percent) cast for McGahee.
Johnson, the founder of Next Step TLP and a certified behavioral health case manager with Lifeworks Counseling, said she was excited about Tuesday's results.
"It's a little surreal still, but I'm really excited," she said, adding she also is excited about the opportunity to address concerns that she and others have had. "I had a lot of things I wanted to start doing and a lot of things I saw need change. Now, I can actually do something about it."