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Council Ward II candidate Michelle Green joins mayoral candidate Bob Coburn, his grandson Charlie Divelbiss, right, and others watching the election returns Tuesday night. Coburn won and will take office Monday as mayor of Muskogee. Green lost her bid.

Special photo by Mandy Lundy

Bob Coburn struck gold Tuesday, winning his second bid for mayor post by more than 2-1 with a turnout of less than 17 percent of the city’s voters.

Coburn hit his stride early in the evening, taking 185, or about 68 percent, of the 272 votes cast Friday and Monday. Coburn also led the absentee ballot totals with 25, or 71 percent, of the 35 votes cast by mail.

But the big prize came during precinct polling Tuesday, when Coburn outpaced David Ragsdale Jr., receiving 2,371 of the 3,392 ballots cast. With all votes tabulated, Coburn prevailed  2,581-1,118 over Ragsdale with 69.78 percent of the vote.

Both candidates were surprised by the light turnout. Coburn said he thought Proposition 2, which ends the city’s longtime tradition of at-large voting for ward representatives, would have brought out those who otherwise might not vote. Ragsdale said he might have benefited by a heavier turnout.

“I think the turnout did hurt me,” said Ragsdale, who was a Ward III representative for six years. “It could have been a lot better than it was, but I’ve got to roll with it — I ran a clean race and just let the people decide.”

Ragsdale said he wished Coburn the best and offered to help him out in any capacity.

“I’m going to sit back, regroup and move on,” Ragsdale said. “Like I shared with Bob, if he has anything he needs me to do, I will be there — I’m still a part of our community.”

Coburn said he appreciated the offer and complimented Ragsdale on the “clean and honest campaign.” Coburn credited his message, his stance on the issues and the way both resonated with voters for his success at the polls.

But with the race behind him, Coburn said he was ready to get down to business. He   said he wanted to begin by overhauling the city’s comprehensive plan. But his immediate concern is repairing the city’s relationship with residents.

“Specifically, community relations will be a big part of my plan,” said Coburn, who lost his first mayoral bid when Mayor John Tyler Hammons won a second term in 2010. “That is the only way we are going to change the city — change the violence and move forward.”

Coburn said he began making strides toward that end during his campaign, “developing relationships and getting to know each other on a deeper level.”

“I am excited to hit the ground running,” Coburn said. “There are so many positive things going on in Muskogee. It is an exciting time, and I’m excited to get started.”

Coburn, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of former Ward I Councilor Bob Luttrull, will take office Monday. Luttrull resigned after just two years. With a runoff election imminent in Ward I, that City Council post will remain empty until after April 3, the day of the runoff.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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