MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 3, 2013

Okay election draws huge turnout

Okay and Porter each elect three town trustees

BOYNTON — Okay voters turned out in droves Tuesday to elect three trustees — one incumbent and two political newcomers — as 74 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots.

Across the county in Porter, about 34 percent of the eligible voters turned out to elect two trustees to four-year terms and a third to serve a two-year, unexpired term.

In Okay, 216 of the town’s 292 registered voters cast ballots. The victors of the night were pleased with both the turnout and the outcome.

Johnny Wilson, a retired police officer, snagged the most votes among a field of five candidates vying for three trustee seats. Wilson earned 67, or 31 percent, of the 216 ballots cast.

Trustee Dennis R. Liles, who was elected in 2011 to fill an unexpired two-year term, came in a close second with 61, or 28.2 percent, of the ballots cast. Liles is the superintendent of the city of Wagoner’s wastewater treatment plant.

Bradley Mathews, another political newcomer who works as a systems technician for U.S. Cellular, was elected to fill the third open position on the Okay Board of Trustees. Mathews snagged 58, or 26.9 percent, of the ballots cast.

Wilson said the turnout and the support he won surprised him. He was unsure whether being the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s race was “a blessing or a curse.”

“Like I told the guys, I am the new kid on the block so I have a lot to learn,” Wilson said. “I would like to see the town get some more businesses, and the streets are in terrible shape. We need to get something done about that.”

Liles, who also served as a trustee in Okay during the 1980s, said he is focused on moving the town forward. He emphasized the importance of team work.

“It is a team effort to get done what we can do,” Liles said. “I think we just keep going in the direction we are going, finishing some of the projects we’ve started and persevere.”

Mathews said he is “going to do everything I can to improve the community and serve the best possible way that I can.”

“I just want to bring a positive and professional change to the town of Okay,” Mathews said. “I am looking to make sure we are seen in the best possible light because we are a wonderful community.”

In Porter, Ron Hart and Dennis Holmes were elected to serve four-year terms for the two trustee positions open this year. Brent Fatkin was elected to serve an unexpired two-year term up for grabs this year.

Holmes, a retired machinist, earned the most votes among a field of three candidates competing for two open positions. Winning the support of 58 voters, Holmes took home 47.9 percent of the ballots.

Hart, an over-the-road trucker, edged out former Mayor Tommy Cobb for the second open four-year position. Hart won 37, or 30.6 percent, of the 121 ballots cast in the three-way race.

Fatkin, one of three candidates competing for the single unexpired two-year term, earned 50 percent of the vote. Fatkin, who retired from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections as warden of the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, garnered 32 of the 64 votes cast in that contest.

Holmes and Fatkin expressed optimism about the future of Porter and confidence the newest configuration of the town’s five-member Board of Trustees will work as a team.

 “I think we need to look at the big picture, not make any quick adjustments, but just check things out and maybe we can make some improvements,” Fatkin said. “Five people can make a better decision than one person can, but you have to have five people who can work as a team for the whole town.”

Holmes said he was excited about the prospects of working with his new colleagues. He said the board’s three newest members and at least one sitting trustee share similar views.

“We’ll be getting our feet wet, see what’s going on, and if we can fix something, then we’ll fix it,” Holmes said. “There are just some common-sense things that need to get done, and maybe we can get some grants to help get them done.”

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

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