MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 1, 2008

Mayor’s race down to two

Hammons, McBride will square off May 13

Muskogee voters expressed a desire for change Tuesday, with more than 42 percent of the ballots cast for mayor going to John Tyler Hammons.

The 19-year-old political science major at the University of Oklahoma, outpaced two opponents with a history of public service in Muskogee and three other newcomers.

Hammons will go head-to-head May 13 with former Mayor Hershel McBride, who collected 1,697, or 38.9 percent, of the votes cast in the mayoral race.

Hammons, who garnered 1,849 votes, credited his success on the fact that he is a newcomer to city government and represents change.

“I am new and have no baggage, and people are ready for something new,” Hammons said after the votes were tabulated Tuesday. “I have been nothing but open and honest with the voters, and the people have placed their trust in me.”

McBride, a local businessman and longtime fixture in city government, said he anticipated a runoff election. But he expected a slightly different outcome.

“He ran a good race,” McBride said of Hammons’ campaign. “But in the end, I think, people will look at our records and decide who would be the best person for the job.”

McBride said during the coming weeks he will emphasize his experience and his opponent’s inexperience.

Ron Venters Sr., who trailed Hammons and McBride with 553, or 12.67 percent of the vote, said he was disappointed with the outcome.

“It’s amazing Muskogee would pick a young man with no experience, a man who is still wet behind the ears, over an experienced black man,” Venters said. “I am hurt — the voters in this city would pick the novelty candidate over a progressive visionary.”

Finishing at the bottom of the pack of six mayoral candidates were Glynda Oliver, with 132 votes, Barney Taylor, with 80, and Robert Thomas, 52.

Taylor said he was disappointed with his showing. He declined to say who he might throw his support to during the May 13 runoff election.

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