Two candidates are competing for the remaining two years of Mayor Janey Boydston's unexpired term as a representative of Ward I on the Muskogee City Council, which became vacant when she became mayor upon the resignation of former Mayor Bob Coburn.
Ward I Councilor Evelyn Hibbs, who was appointed to serve during the interim, is being challenged by Ashley Davis. The two candidates answered some questions about the issues they believe are important, how they would address them, and their qualifications.
1. What do you consider to be the most important issue that affects the residents of your community today?
DAVIS: Most of the residents do not trust the City Council with tax money, our crumbling buildings, infrastructure, transparency of leadership, jobs and more.
HIBBS: Job creation is a crucially important issue facing our community. We must continue to attract and retain quality, full-time jobs, which offer a good salary and full benefits.
2. What specific steps would you take to address that issue to improve the situation for your constituents if you are elected?
HIBBS: Currently, the city has a very successful partnership with the Muskogee City-County Port Authority in attracting industrial development. These development efforts include not only relocation of new industries to Muskogee, but also expansion of industries. I would advocate for measures which expand and enhance this partnership.
DAVIS: City needs an independent audit of all Muskogee, a firm that is not associated with Muskogee. Every councilor and every person that is on the committees must be held accountable of every decision. We need to start to capitalize what we have to rekindle jobs we have. Main highways, airport and port: That is a trifecta Tulsa doesn't have. New vision and new direction for Muskogee is a must for our future, not the same direction we have have seen for 50 years.
3. Why do you think you are the best candidate to serve the interests of the community and those you would represent if elected?
DAVIS: I'm here for Muskogee. I want to serve Muskogee and listen to the small businesses and residents' concerns. I want to work to see new jobs, manufacturing, technology, new training for our city workers.
HIBBS: I have served our community for all of my adult life in various leadership roles, most recently as a member of the Muskogee County Election Board and as chair of the Muskogee Medical Center Authority. Additionally, I am an advocate for those who live without many of the privileges that most of us enjoy: a safe home, food, reliable transportation and a good job. I started WISH Inc. (Women In Safe Home) nearly 34 years ago because I saw the desperate needs of victims of domestic violence and the trauma that they faced in the absence of these privileges. So many years later, I am so proud of what has been accomplished. My heart is truly with Muskogee.
4. What specific skills do you have that will help you accomplish the goals you hope to achieve as a public servant in your community?
HIBBS: I am detail-oriented and committed, not shying away from challenging problems. Having lived in Muskogee my entire life, I am empathetic to the needs of our community, and I am passionate about the people. I remain committed to staying fully informed of all issues that affect us, making sure my voice is heard on behalf of all Muskogee residents.
DAVIS: I was with the Emergency Management for over 12 years. I was deputy director for around three years, storm-spotter, training with civil defense. I have connected with so many leaders, business owners and residents. They want to see Muskogee thrive and real communicate from the city, and the majority of talk was that we need new ideas and new vision and leadership.
5. Do you plan to voluntarily report your campaign contributions and expenditures? Why or why not?
DAVIS: Yes, it's part of being transparent. Our people should be able to see who invests in the candidates.
HIBBS: Yes, I believe it is important to be transparent.