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As pay raise proposal dies, outgoing councilman says he is charting a new course

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Ed Shadid
Ed Shadid

Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid plans a move to outsider populism after eight largely frustrating years trying to effect change from the inside.

In his next-to-last meeting on 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 raise 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, 36, 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. That panel took nine to 10 months to complete its work, he said.

"I do not think we should piecemeal this," Stonecipher said.

Shadid said he had, for years, sought charter changes and that there "is a possibility in government to study things to death."

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.

Nobody was.

Once he leaves the council, Shadid said, he plans to lead citizen-driven efforts to legislate.

"I plan to start a firm to run municipal and state initiative petitions," he said.

That task became easier in the last year in Oklahoma City.

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, and intimated he would seek a 180-day window.

In the meantime, Mayor David Holt agreed the city was due for a comprehensive charter review.

He said he would appoint a committee by the end of this year.

"It's certainly on my to-do list," Holt said.

William Crum

OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman. Read more ›

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