Here’s how Freeholder candidates responded to questions

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WARD I Candidates

Your Name: Tom Buchanan

Which Ward are you running in? Ward I

What has motivated you to run? I have been outspoken in my support of the charter form of government, and I believe it would have been disingenuous of me to not be willing to offer to work in this freeholder process.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? The charter form of municipal government gives the citizen voter a direct voice in how their government works. The “Charter” is intended to be and should be a “living” document one which is reviewed periodically and modified to meet the current needs of the community. Using the freeholder process, citizens can form the policies and procedures, which give direction to the council and mayor, basically the parameters of how they are to carry out the wishes of the voters. I view the charter as a “handbook” of how to fulfill the duties of a newly elected office holder as well as those currently serving,

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? It is my belief that a freeholder should come to the process with an open mind willing to listen to citizen input and work with fellow freeholders to achieve those wishes, not with preconceived notions. Freeholders are to function on behalf of the citizen not independently.

Why should voters elect you for this office? I am a lifelong resident of Altus, this community has been very good to my family and me, I view this as an opportunity to give back. I had the opportunity to serve as a freeholder when the current charter language was written, using this experience of how the process works, along with an absolute willingness to listen to any and all comments from my fellow Altusan’s , including current and past elected officials as we work to improve the charter to better serve the community of Altus.

Your Name: Allen B. Collins

Which Ward are you running in? I

What has motivated you to run? As a lifetime resident of Altus, I have a desire for our city to grow. I am always looking for ways to give back to our city and I feel that being on the Board of Freeholders is another way of being able to serve the community. As a City of Altus Police Officer, I am involved with the Field Training Program, a DARE Officer and have assisted in many community events to include the Back to School Bash, Relay for Life and many more. I believe this city deserves someone who wants to give back to the city and help it grow.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? I believe our current form of City Government is a hybrid form of government, due to having an elected mayor, chief of police, city clerk, and street commissioner and then having an appointed City Manager. With having these elected positions it is a guaranteed way to keep the power in the hands of our citizens and not give too much power into one person’s hands which also gives an additional level of oversight to the City of Altus.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? Article II sec.1. I believe once a council member and/or mayor has completed a total of four terms (16 years), whether consecutive or combined they should no longer be able to hold an office within the City of Altus Government. I feel our City Manager must reside within the City of Altus city limits full time. I strongly disagree with Article 2 Section 15, which states the council shall determine their own rules for a meeting.

Why should voters elect you for this office? I feel I will bring a different view point to the Board of Freeholders. I will represent the voice of the voters with integrity just as I do as a Police officer. I have the City of Altus best interest at heart. I have already shown this through all the community relation events I have coordinated and ran personally. I feel it’s time for unity and to stop the separation our city has seen for decades. I will be open to listening to the desires and complaints from our citizens throughout our city.

Your Name: Rick Henry

Which Ward are you running in? I

What has motivated you to run? I would like to see changes made to the Charter.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? As a former city councilman I have helped make changes from the Aldermanic form of government to the charter. One of our city’s greatest strengths is the people of Altus. I believe we are not empowering them to be their best selves as we should.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? Checks and balances.

Why should voters elect you for this office? No answer.

Your Name: John Messerly

Which Ward are you running in? Ward I

What has motivated you to run? As a long-time resident of Altus, I am very interested in seeing the City have a strong and workable form of government ensuring growth and service to our citizens. We have been under the Council-Manager form of government for several years and this is a good time to review the charter and recommend any needed and desired changes to the voters for their approval.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? Altus has been under the Council-Manager form of government since 2013. This form of government is used by most Oklahoma cities of Altus size and larger. Our current form of government seems well suited to our community and has, I believe, helped the city make strides in financial stability, accountability and growth for the future.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? Having read the charter as it currently exists, I feel the following areas should be reviewed: Sec. 2. Freeholder candidates must reside in their respective wards for 6 months, why not Council Members? Sec. 4. Requiring the City Attorney to reside in Altus may limit availability of qualified and interested applicants for the position. Sec. 5. Elections for Mayor and Council are non-partisan; why hold a primary election? Instead use the general election and save the cost of a second election?

Why should voters elect you for this office? I bring extensive experience in management, a master’s degree in management and public administration and a strong commitment to help Altus grow, prosper and maintain “A Future to Share” as stated in our City’s motto.

WARD II Candidates

Your Name: Jeremy Bailey

Which Ward are you running in? Ward II

What has motivated you to run? I was motivated to run for the Freeholder position because I wanted to ensure our Street Commissioner, Police Chief and City Clerk remain elected positions. Elected officials are the foundation of a representative democracy. Altus is important to me and I feel strongly about finding solutions that will ensure our City Government works for the people.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? Although I see the City Manager as a strength, I believe some power limitations should be placed on the position. I believe City Council votes or recommendations could be used as a power check. We should set a cap for purchases and contracts not made through ordinance. Anything that surpasses that amount should have City Council approval.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? I would maintain the language in the current Charter’s Article II, Section 6, that states the Mayor and Council members will not receive compensation. I do believe that they should definitely be reimbursed for their services, but we need a more itemized list of what constitutes an expense for reimbursement to avoid financial abuses.

Why should voters elect you for this office? If elected I promise to maintain my position on Keeping our Police Chief, City Clerk and Street Commissioner elected positions, with stricter guidelines for Mayor and Councilmember compensation, and a “council-manager government” with more balanced power. I also promise while maintaining these positions, I will be open to other points of view and ideas while being respectful when defending my own.

Your Name: Linda J. Walker

Which Ward are you running in? Ward II

What has motivated you to run? Want to amend the Charter for the good of the community.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses?

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? Mostly, administrative and grammatical, but some revisions as well so it is not so ambiguous.

Why should voters elect you for this office? Have had 17 years experience with the City under three Mayors and quite a few City Administrators/City Managers; under both forms of municipal government. Comparatively, can see the differences and what works and what will not.

Your Name: Nicholas Young

Which Ward are you running in? Ward II

What has motivated you to run? I have a genuine desire to make Altus better. This is my sixth year here and Altus has taken me in as one of its. I am enthusiastic to give back however I can.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? I believe that the structure of the City Government is relatively strong, but there is a lingering disconnect between the powers that be. Effective communication seems to be an enduring issue, resulting in issues on every level. Any discussion involving the charter of the City of Altus must include people who are able to communicate in effective and professional ways.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? Not to sound non-specific, but I believe there needs to be a discussion on each provision to make sure that the charter is 100 percent clear and that the language and content reflects the will of the people.

Why should voters elect you for this office? I have a passion for improving Altus, however I can. I believe I have the right combination of work ethic and interpersonal communication that is absolutely essential to a Freeholder.

WARD III Candidates

Your Name: Sherri Dirickson

Which Ward are you running in? Ward III

What has motivated you to run? My father, Craig Tockey, was a City of Altus employee from 1984 until his passing in 2015. He worked so very hard to make this city successful and prosperous. He took great pride in his work and his city. He is my hero and my inspiration to push Altus to the best it can be. My goal is to continue his legacy and better my city with my service and selflessness.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? Our City is currently run under the City Charter with a Council/Manager Form of government. The council is made up of eight council members two from each of the four wards, and the Mayor. The council appoints the City Manager position to oversee the day-to-day operations of the City and all hiring and firing of department heads. The City Manager reports to the Council and can only be hired or fired by a majority vote of the Council. The only Department Heads that are not directly under the City Manager’s authority are the 3 elected positions, which are the Chief of Police, Street Commissioner, and City Clerk.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? If elected I would ask the Freeholder board to look at Article IV Section 2 of the Charter, designated for Purchasing and Sales powers which are primarily only authorized by the City Manager. I would like to see stronger language to create specific accountability protocol for the council to be a safeguard on substantial expenditures. I would also like to address some protections for employees to have access to speak to someone other than the City Manager, in the course that it is inappropriate or ineffective to do so, within a more detailed and effective grievance process.

Why should voters elect you for this office? I will do my very best to represent the citizens of my ward and all of Altus with integrity and knowledge. Like my Dad, I want the very best for our city and our people. I will be committed to giving my time to the research and consultations necessary to complete this project with the best interest of the public in my heart.

Your Name: Timothy Scott.

What ward are you running in? Ward III

What has motivated you to run? I’ve tried to exercise the right to vote in every election, since living in Altus. In the last election held on April 2, 2019 the voters approve to activate a board of Freeholders. This made me look at two things; one being, Is this my opportunity to further of service to the Citizens of Altus, the ideas and desires put forth by the citizens of Altus.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? Under the current form of the Altus Charter/Elected officials, an elected Chief of Police, City Clerk/Treasurer, and Street Commissioner is meant to be three additional levels of oversight in the City of Altus.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed?

Article I Sec. 12. Street Commissioner should be reviewed to insure that the added duties are listed under the duties under the City of Altus Charter. I am willing to listen and honestly evaluate other suggestions concerning the Articles listed within the Altus City Charter by freeholders or public forum.

I also believe the issue with the salaries for the Chief of Police, Clerk/Treasure, & Street Commissioner should be reviewed two months prior to the filing date for election to the position by the City Council.

Why should voters elect you for this office?

I’ve chosen to run for the office of Freeholder in Ward III, because I strongly believe in the process of duly held elections and believe no-one’s opinion is more powerful than the wishes of the majority of voters.

I’ve also acquired a history of working for three governing body’s starting with an elected sheriff for 10 years leaving as undersheriff, working for an appointed Chief of Police under a full charter system leaving as a Lieutenant after working for nine plus years and working currently starting as an employee/police officer since 2005 and worked my way up through rank on patrol until I was promoted to the position of Deputy Chief of Police in September 2015.

WARD IV Candidates

Your Name: Dillon Feazel

Which Ward are you running in? IV

What has motivated you to run? When my family and I moved back to Altus in 2018 after being stationed at Travis AFB, California, I felt a responsibility to serve my community in a more personal fashion.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses?

Our city government has been a Council-Manager system for a few years and I believe it is a more balanced form with better checks and balances than an Aldermanic system offers and will continue to pursue what the citizens have previously voted for.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? I believe that more clarification and administrative changes need to be implemented to make our charter more effective and less convoluted.

Why should voters elect you for this office? I believe I’m a good fit for this position because of my time in the military working with varying cultures and beliefs while still offering a quality product with compromises that suit everyone’s needs.

Your Name: Ron Osterhout

Which Ward are you running in? IV

What has motivated you to run? Assist in solving discord in city government.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? Strength of charter form of government provides the opportunity to have a more professional approach to city government. Weakness arises when there is poor definition of authority and responsibility required of positions in that government.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? All provisions should be reviewed.

Why should voters elect you for this office? My position is to protect the charter and retain the City Clerk-Treasurer and Police Chief as elected offices.

Your Name: Chris Riffle

Which Ward are you running in? Ward IV

What has motivated you to run? Simply put: Civic duty, and, investing in my community. For more reasons than I can list here, it is critical for Altus to have a solid and sustainable foundation for its local government. I am certain I can be valuable in the process seeing that through.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? I’ve been committed to learning about, analyzing and assessing our local government from the day I arrived here. I have no doubts at all that the council-manager form of government is the best fit for Altus. We want the best, most capable people to oversee the complex day-to-day operations of our municipal government and its services. A professional city manager is our best resource.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? At just under 10,000 words our charter is designed to be as “thin as possible” in order to get the job done. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and examine how well it’s doing that job. For me, clearer definitions of duties and responsibilities of elected officials should be priority-one as well as simplifying certain language within the charter for ease of understanding.

Why should voters elect you for this office?As I indicated above, I’ve been deeply involved with this charter from its earliest rumblings. While I’m hardly a certified expert on charters, I believe that my experience -not least of which being my time as a councilman on our first Charter-Council-Manager legislative body - will be especially valuable to the process in front of us. I’m 100 percent invested in my community and have devoted so much of my precious, irreplaceable time to it. I want that investment to continue to benefit all of us in seeing our community grow and thrive long into the future.

Your Name: Bruce J. Wilson

Which Ward are you running in? Ward IV

What has motivated you to run? I became more active in city politics during the last Mayoral/Council member election. The central issue of the election was to do away with the city charter and change to a Mayor-Council form of government. I read the charter and noticed the problems that the candidates mentioned in addition to other errors.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? Currently, the city is run in the Council-Manager style of city government. The lack of partisan politics is one of the greatest strengths of this form of government. Decisions are based on merit rather than the whims of a single individual.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? Civic duty should be required of all citizens; however, compensation for our mayor and council is warranted. Additionally, there are several elected positions within the city government that should be appointed positions.

Why should voters elect you for this office? I have called Altus my home since 1973. I want to help Altus flourish.

Your Name: Tom Yates.

Which Ward are you running in? Ward IV

What has motivated you to run?

I have been motivated to run for freeholder by several factors. One is the care I have for my city. I have lived in Altus most of my life. Since I am deeply interested the well being of my city, I have served on the city council and as a freeholder in a previous city charter election. This has motivated me to want the best organized and designed form of city government possible for Altus, and to be a part of any changes or provisions to be made.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses?

I feel that I understand both types of government. I have served under the previous form, whereby the mayor in essence runs the city. I am also very familiar with the city manager form. I was on the council when we authorized the city administrator to take care of many of the details that a city manager could do. This power was limited, however, because the mayor in effect had the final say.

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed?

The primary provisions to be addressed are determining which form of government is most effective and relevant to our city. Also, we have somewhat of a hybrid system, a quasi-elective form of government. The elective status of the Street Commissioner, the Chief of Police, and the City Clerk could be looked at to see if there might be a long-term solution to this situation.

Why should voters elect you for this office? (did not answer)

Your Name: Stacey Belanger

Which Ward are you running in? IV

What has motivated you to run? Altus has voted to keep our Charter, to maintain an elected Chief of Police, City Clerk and Street Commissioner, and recently to amend the charter.

What is your understanding of the Altus form of City Government and its strengths and weaknesses? (Did not answer).

Tell the readers which provision(s), if any, of the City Charter need(s) to be addressed? Once elected, freeholders will have the opportunity to discuss, along with legal counsel, improvements in communication and transparency within our government. There are several ways to achieve this by increasing oversight for financial decisions and/or personnel decisions. Specifically, to improve policy for city employees and citizens to file grievances for suspected financial impropriety. Additionally, improving oversight for restrictions on Altus Power is a priority for our citizens and will be my priority if elected.

Why should voters elect you for this office? (Did not answer.)

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