Two new members officially joined the City Council Monday, taking their oaths of office alongside the council’s senior member.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Linda Chapman and Ward 5 Councilman Allan Hampton took their constitutional and statutory oaths alongside Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk, after Mayor Stan Booker officially ended the 2019 administration. The move leaves Burk, who is beginning his sixth and final term, as the council member with the longest continuous tenure.
Chapman, a retired music educator with long ties to the civic community, is taking her Ward 3 seat after defeating former Councilman Caleb Davis in the November general election. Hampton, who grew up in Lawton and also has a long history of civic activity, is replacing former Councilman Dwight Tanner, who withdrew from the election in Hampton’s favor just after the filing period ended. Burk did not draw an opponent.
The three, along with three other council members, met in special session early Monday for the first of two council sessions this week. The council will hold its first regular meeting of 2020 at 6 p.m. today.
Hampton and Chapman said they were joining the council at an exciting time.
Hampton traced his civic interest to a conversation he had with his son five years ago. He said even though he and his son both attended high school in Lawton, his son elected to live in Oklahoma City because “it is better.”
“Being pro-active, I decided I better get involved,” Hampton said.
Chapman, who credited the voters of Ward 3 for allowing her the “privilege to be up here,” said council members may not agree on everything, “but I hope in the end we end up with mutual respect.”
Monday’s ceremony marked several notable changes for the council. The group now has three female members: Chapman, Ward 1 Councilwoman Mary Ann Hankins and Ward 7 Councilwoman Onreka Johnson. In addition, six of the eight council members and the mayor are in their first terms.
Tanner said he enjoyed his 6½ years on the council and pointed to the accomplishments the group made in that time, including recovery from a history-making drought that prompted city officials to discuss alternative water sources and ended with a plan to dig wells to supplement raw water provided by city lakes.
“That is good policy,” he said, citing other good policies that won council agreement, including a battle to fight off plans to downsize Fort Sill and a public safety tax that increases the starting pay of city police officers by $11,000. He also cited the council’s recent approval of a Tax Increment Financing District Project Plan for the city’s west and airport industrial sites, and it plans to bring a new Capital Improvements Program to Lawton voters in February to further city goals.
Tanner also poked a bit of fun at himself.
“I feel like I was a very passive policy maker. I feel like I should have spoken up more,” said Tanner, one of the council’s most outspoken members, who said he is returning to private life to spend more time with his most precious commodity: his children.