HEALTH

It’s Chambers vs unions vs small donors in OKC City Council runoff race

The latest campaign finance reports show striking differences in size and types of donors for candidates still in the race for the Oklahoma City Council Ward 1 and Ward 3 seats. 

Ray Carter and Shay Varnell face off for the Ward 1 seat with individual small-donor bases having survived a primary race between nine candidates.

In contrast, the Ward 3 race shows Jessica Martinez-Brooks with sizable union support against Barbara Young whose support comes mostly from big business, the Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce, and conservative political PACs.

With Martinez-Brooks gaining a donation from the South OKC Chamber of Commerce, the race could also be seen as one between loyalties to different Chambers of Commerce.

The four will be on the April 6 School and Municipal General Election ballot.

The most recent campaign finance reports were filed earlier this month and include cash raised as well as expenses up to Jan 25. 

Ward 3

Both Jessica Martinez-Brooks and Barbara Young are newcomers competing to hold the Ward 3 seat which was previously held by Larry McAtee since 2001. The ward covers a large portion of southwest OKC extending east into Canadian County. 

Barbara Young is a candidate for the Ward 3 OKC City Council seat runoff election April 6, 2021. (from campaign website)

Young, who considers herself a “conservative for council,” collected a total amount of $25,991 during her campaign from individual contributions, according to the campaign finance report. 

According to her continuing reports of contributions, Young also reported an additional $18,775 from 21 individuals and $1,500 from two political action committees. Continuing reports of contributions show how much candidates raised in the final weeks leading up to the primary election. 

In campaign expenses, she spent more than $18,000 for signs, voter contacts, postcards, and mailers. 

The report reveals that she has raised a total of $9,500 from five PACs, including the contributions from the continuing reports. The largest contribution from those PACs was $3,000 from the Greater OKC Chamber that supports pro-business candidates at the state and local levels. 

Other PACs on that report were:

  • Oklahoma Municipal Contractors ($2,500)
  • Oklahoma City Commercial Developers ($2,500)

According to a continuing report, the other PACs that contributed to Young’s campaign: 

  • Advance Freedom PAC ($1,000)
  • McAfee & Taft PAC ($500)

Her campaign also received a $500 contribution from the OKC Republican Women Club, a political party committee that aims to elect Republicans in local, state, and federal offices. 

Young also contributed a total of $905 to her own campaign.

Martinez-Brooks raised a total of $39,530 from individual donations throughout her entire campaign, which she announced over a year ago. In a continuing report of contribution, she reported an additional $2,600 from one person. 

candidate
Jessica Martinez-Brooks is a candidate for the Ward 3 OKC City Council seat runoff election April 6, 2021. (from campaign website)

The Oklahoma City Firefighters Association donated $2,800, the most out of the nine PACs that contributed to her campaign, according to her report

The eight other PACs that contributed to Martinez-Brook’s campaign are: 

  • Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 344 ($2,000) 
  • Oklahoma Association of General Contractors ($1,000)
  • OKC Retired Firefighters Association ($1,000)
  • Southwest Laborers District Council  ($500)
  • Oklahoma State AFL-CIO COPE ($500)
  • South OKC Chamber of Commerce ($250)
  • Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades donated ($200)
  • Oklahoma Sheet Metal Workers  ($200)

In her continuing report, the campaign raised another $500 from the Oklahoma State AFL-CIO, a local labor union that aims to represent the interests of working people at the state and local level.

Martinez-Brooks total amount raised from PACs is $8,950, a little under the total amount her competitor raised from other PACs. 

Martinez-Brooks is endorsed by the OKC Retired Firefighters Association and the South OKC Chamber of Commerce. 

PACs contributions have played a major role in the race for Ward 3. 

The report also shows the support of Councilman Todd Stone, who was re-elected a second term and donated $200 to Martinez-Brook’s campaign. 

She spent a total of over $33,000 on campaign expenses, campaign consulting, voter data, printing, and ethics reporting. 

Ward 1

Bradley Carter and Shay Varnell will face each other in the runoffs to represent Ward 1 on the council. Ward 1 encompasses a large part of the northwest OKC ward.

candidate
Ray Carter is a candidate for the Ward 1 OKC City Council seat runoff election April 6, 2021. (from campaign website)

According to Carter’s report, he collected a total of $5,627.91 during the duration of his campaign from several community members and small business owners. His largest single contribution was $2,800 from a local real estate manager, Vicki Nelson. His campaign didn’t receive any contributions from PACs or political party committees. 

Carter spent a little over a thousand dollars in campaign costs on campaign flyers, T-shirt printing, and mailing material. 

There is currently no record of the most recent pre-primary contributions report for Varnell on the city’s website. The Office of City Clerk received his 4th Quarter report Monday, which covered Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 of last year. 

candidate
Shay Varnell is a candidate for the Ward 1 OKC City Council seat runoff election April 6, 2021. (from campaign website)

In the final quarter, Varnell received a total of  $2,435 from 11 individual donors and reported a loan of $2,600 for his campaign. His campaign did not receive any contributions from PACs or political committees. 

Varnell spent over three thousand dollars on his campaign, mostly on yard signs and campaign jackets.

The final candidates will file their final contribution reports prior to the general election on April 6.  

The last day to register to vote in the upcoming election is March 12 and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is March 30, at 5 p.m.


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