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MWC mayoral recall petition deemed valid; council will set election for Feb. 9

Tim Farley / Red Dirt Report
Midwest City firefighters protesting.
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Embattled mayor says he'll fight back against unions with facts, truth

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – A mayoral recall petition has been deemed valid, forcing current Midwest City Mayor Dee Collins to defend himself publicly as he seeks to win another election in February.

Police and fire unions banded together the last several months accusing Collins and City Manager Guy Henson of ignoring public safety concerns while moving ahead with pet projects that have little or no impact on the well-being of local residents.

Doug Beabout, president of the firefighters union, said Collins failed to provide leadership on the council since he was elected last February. Beabout claims Collins is a puppet for the city manager and has acquiesced to Henson’s agenda to close a fire station and not fill firefighter and police officer vacancies. The station remained open after a significant public outcry.

Failure to fill the vacancies poses a threat to residents and the firefighters and officers who respond to emergency calls, the union officials have said.

The unions needed 433 signatures to force a recall election for Collins, but obtained nearly 1,100, Beabout said. City Clerk Rhonda Atkins determined there were enough valid signatures to require a new election. The city council will consider at its Nov. 24 meeting placing the recall election on the Feb. 9 ballot which also will include regular municipal elections for Wards 2, 4 and 6.

Retired Midwest City police officer Matt Dukes announced on Facebook he will seek the mayor’s seat. As the current mayor, Collins’ name is automatically placed on the ballot. At this time, no other candidates have expressed an interest in the race.

Collins told Red Dirt Report it’s been difficult not to take the public attacks on his leadership personally.

“The community thinks the things they’re saying is inaccurate and you do take it personal some of the time,” he said. “But when the campaigning starts and we point out the facts I hope they don’t take it personal.”

Collins and Dukes worked together on the Midwest City police department for several years before the mayor retired.

“He’s a good man who is a veteran and served his community just like I have. But, it’s not any different than running against someone else. The difference is I’ve been on the council and seen that side of it. The fire and police unions have his ear right now, but it’s a different story once you’re in there having to make decisions based on declining sales tax,” the mayor said.

Beabout contends it wasn’t difficult to get the required number of signatures for the recall election.

“It’s not so much it was success on our part. The voters of Midwest City have spoken. We had 1,100 signatures gathered, which is more people than voted for the mayor when he was elected,” the union rep said.

Beabout claims the unions are not looking for a candidate who will give them anything they want.

“That would be just as bad as the mayor is now,” he said. “We need someone who will come toward the middle and not manipulate the budget for their wants instead of the needs of the city. We want a mayor who will be more open minded and not do what the city manager wants,” he said.

Previously, Beabout said the city council is on track to spend $1.5 million on a plan to redevelop the city’s Original Mile, an area that was built when Midwest City was founded.

“In the same year they’re trying to close a fire station and not fill positions and supposedly there’s a flat budget, our city is spending more than a million dollars to begin implementing the Original Mile plan. This same money could be used for basic essential services,” he said. “We need city leadership that has their priorities straight.”

In October, 96 percent of the unions’ membership voted no-confidence in Collins and Henson. The city council was notified of the vote during one of its meetings.

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Tim Farley

Tim Farley is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of experience, including...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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