OKC mayoral race "heats up"
~ Despite the bitter cold weather in Oklahoma City this week, the gay-related controversy "heats up" in the Oklahoma City mayoral race. Councilman Ed Shadid, candidate for mayor of OKC sent a flyer to a targeted part of the OKC community which raised a great deal of conversation and debate. The flyer had information on the history of Mick Cornett not supporting the LGBT community in the past, but now welcoming an endorsement from an openly gay group of supporters.
In a note to ‘clear the air’ about the mailer sent, Shadid made the following statement, which is also posted on his website:
“Today, I was blindsided by some of the language used in a mailer from my campaign. I did not authorize the language in the mailer and my campaign manager, who is a gay combat veteran, also gave specific instructions to the consultant who drafted the language that it not be used.
"The focus of the message on today's mailer [referring to last Friday] was to highlight Mick's duplicitous stance towards the LGBT community. While I have always been a fierce advocate for the LGBT community, Mick waivers from running on an anti-gay platform in multiple elections to accepting an endorsement this week from a handful of gay Oklahomans. While this language is regrettable, I will continue to relentlessly advocate for and point out injustices against every marginalized community in our city."
Further interviews with business owners and leaders in the OKC gay community yielded the following responses: “My initial reaction was, ‘That’s not worded right,’” said John Gibbons, owner of The Boom club and restaurant on 39th St. in OKC. “The first part of it is clear,” he added, quoting from the flyer, “Cornett did vote for a 2011 ‘gay rights’ City Council Resolution after running on an anti-gay platform.
“It’s the second part that appears offensive and obviously worded wrong,” Gibbons continued. “It reads, ‘He [Cornett] did nothing to stop the offensive pro-gay Christmas play on city property last year.’ Anyone in the gay community knows Shadid has been an advocate for the LGBT community long before other people openly expressed their support of our community.”
The flyer came in the mail to this targeted group in OKC on Friday. In follow-up, we also contacted Jim Roth and Scotty Irani. We received the following statement from Irani: “My question is why his campaign, the flyer authorized by Ed Shadid for OKC 2014, chose to cut to the conservative base by saying ‘Cornett voted for a 2011 'gay rights' city council resolution’ and the gay play ‘on city property’ that Mayor Cornett was silent about?”
He continued,“I have no doubt Dr. Shadid is an ally of the OKC GLBT community, and that he is aware of the struggles with the city government we have had in past. I was on the Cimarron Alliance board after the fight with the city over the gay pride banners on city light posts. I get it. I know the struggles with GLBT rights and this city.
“If he was unaware or "blindsided" then okay, I agree he would be troubled by that. I would feel more confident in a city leader if they proof read, approved campaign money for postage of this flier, knew that these 1000 + pieces of mail were being printed, and approved everything that had his name on it.
"As someone who has owned a restaurant, and two businesses in OKC, as a citizen, and yes even as a member of the LGBT community, I am sticking with Mick.” Irani finalized his statement by saying,“In conclusion I'll be glad when "GAY" isn't used as a political tool from either side.”
And from Roth:"The Shadid campaign's latest gay-baiting, via their last minute mail piece targeted to republican voters, is shameful, especially in light of the amount of GLBT support and money Ed Shadid has sought. It hurts to realize that GLBT supporters and dollars were used by Ed Shadid to marginalize our community as a wedge issue among voters.
And although his campaign issued some sorry explanation blaming a consultant, that excuse doesn't explain the year-long gay baiting Shadid has done whispering about his opposition research and claims against another candidate.
I had hopes for Ed Shadid when he first got elected, but sadly this divisiveness is a pattern and worse yet, an act of desperation at the expense of a minority community."
What seems to have led to this debacle is Shadid hired former Republican Oklahoma Speaker of the House, Lance Cargill, to write these flyers. Cargill now works as a political consultant. He resigned from his position as Speaker in 2008 but remained a House Representative at that time. Later that year he resigned from the House after his admission of failing to file personal and property taxes. Amid these allegations at the time, Cargill simply made this comment about his resignation: "I want nothing more than to have good ideas to move forward without the burden of being weighed down by personal stories about me.”
Cargill served as Speaker for just one year and did not seek re-election after those charges were brought against him.
We contacted Cargill at his office for a comment which we have not received a response to our call. With respect, it is the weekend and he may not check those messages at his office. We requested a cell number for Cargill from the Shadid campaign, but that request was not fulfilled.
In a response to a Facebook post about the Mayoral race controversy that seems to be dividing our community right now; Brett Baldwin had this to say: “I was just telling Scott Hamilton [Executive Director of Cimarron Alliance] yesterday how crazy it is to witness all the mudslinging and personal attacks over our mayoral race lately. It's disappointing. If, in fact, Mick Cornett has come around to be the kind of champion for equality that any part of our gay community can rally around, isn't it a good thing? I'm still backing Ed but, that's not the point.The point is this: I hope the personal attacks on people within our own community stop soon, knowing that there is still a lot of work to be done. If these personal attacks make it more difficult to work together in the future for the common goals I think we all share, then we've lost more than we've gained this election cycle no matter who wins. That would be very, very sad.
Jeff Riles, who has stated publicly his support of Cornett, this week reminded us of a quote by Thomas Jefferson from the 19th century: "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."
It’s important to remember the future of the OKC LGBT community and stick together “working for the common goals we all share.”
That is a significant perspective, regardless of who is elected as mayor of Oklahoma City for the next four years.