As pay raise proposal dies, outgoing councilman says he is charting a new course
Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid plans a move to outsider populism after eight largely frustrating years trying to effect change from the inside.
At his next-to-last regular meeting Tuesday, Shadid proposed three amendments to the city's charter — essentially its constitution — including one to triple salaries for the mayor and council members.
Two of Shadid's three proposals failed to advance to a final vote on April 23. If the council approves, the single remaining measure would go before voters July 9.
Shadid retires in a month and will be succeeded by James Cooper, whose livelihood as a middle school teacher depends on the measure that remains alive.
Shadid proposed voters be asked to decide whether to:
• Raise the mayor's salary to $73,500 annually and council members' salaries to $36,750. The proposal failed to advance on a 6-3 vote.
• Extend from 90 to 150 days the length of time citizens have to collect initiative petition signatures. The idea failed for lack of a motion to approve it.
• Loosen restrictions on who can serve on the city council. The proposal advanced, 7-2, to the April 23 meeting for a decision on whether to put it before voters.
As it stands, the charter prohibits full-time employees of the federal or state governments from serving on the council.
That restriction means Cooper must give up his full-time job as a Jefferson Middle School teacher before he takes office April 9.
Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher said he preferred that a committee conduct a comprehensive charter review and make recommendations on amendments.
He opposed moving forward with both measures that came to a vote Tuesday.
Stonecipher said he served on the last charter revision committee in 2009, and that panel took nine to 10 months to complete its work.
"I do not think we should piecemeal this," he said.
Shadid said he had, for years, sought charter changes and that there "is a possibility in government to study things to death, for things to get delayed."
Shadid made only a cursory argument for the initiatives measure, saying he would "let it go" if nobody was willing to make a motion in its favor.
Once he leaves the council, he said, he plans to lead citizen-driven efforts to legislate.
"I plan to start a firm to run municipal and state initiative petitions," Shadid said.
That task became easier in the last year in Oklahoma City, when low turnout in the 2018 mayoral race resulted in a reduction, to about 6,500, in the number of signatures required to call an election on ordinances or charter amendments.
Shadid said the proposal to extend the time frame for collecting signatures would be one of his first undertakings in his new role as citizen advocate.
In the meantime, Mayor David Holt agreed the city was due for a comprehensive charter review and said he would appoint a committee by the end of this year.
Holt said he had been thinking about it for some time.
"It's certainly on my mind," he said. "It's certainly on my to-do list."