BY LOTTIE WILDS
HERALD STAFF WRITER
The citizens of Sapulpa in Ward 2 have an opportunity on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, to vote for which one of three men they want to run against Charles Stephens, who is up for re-election.
The 2018 city election is a primary (which means it is the election before the general election on April 3rd) when all five wards have one councilor running for re-election. The February 13th election will eliminate two candidates for Ward 2 only. The other wards either already have their two candidates or the incumbent has no challenger.
Charles Stephens (Democrat) (no relation to Brian Stephens) has represented Ward 2 for twelve years. John Anderson, the other councilor for Ward 2, asked for Stephens to be appointed to fill the unfinished term of Ronald Fouche, after his death. He has since been re-elected two times.
Stephens said his philosophy of government is simple: “I tell the truth as close as possible!” He said, over time he has voiced his “opinion on certain things. If they didn’t like it, I’m sorry. And if so, they can vote for me again.”
Asked if he was criticized for his frankness, he said, “No, praised mostly.”
Stephens said, “The whole city of Sapulpa needs to pay attention to what is going on in the community. I think everyone should participate.”
Stephens said the biggest frustration he encounters is that people want things done, but waste their time. Show up at a meeting, instead of complaining to each other. Find out what’s going on, what a few are doing for you.”
If you’ve got ideas? “Bring ‘em to a meeting!”
He explained: “A lot of people want things, are hungry, and they want to eat right now! After they eat, they don’t care what happens next or to anybody else.”
About hiring an economic developer: “I could draw a monthly check, telling you what I’m gonna do!”
Concerning the wide-spread rumors about the animal shelter, Stephens said, “We bought the land and then found out we couldn’t use it.” He said he knows the city needs a new shelter, “but not out by Freddie’s,” which is the premiere restaurant for miles around.
He laughed and said, “Here’s the dump, here’s the water treatment plant, there’s the animal shelter, let’s go out to eat!”
Then he said the city owned the armory which could have made a nice animal shelter, but the powers-that-be wanted a museum there. But there’s nothing there to support it.
“We need creative minds, not just more money. We need restaurants, little commissaries around it.”
Buildings downtown? “No parking, no grocery store, no conveniences.” The seniors in the buildings have to walk several blocks to a gas station for anything. “It’s Un-American!”
“It’s not right, urban renewal started it, and the turnpike did the rest!”
Asked about working with the City Manager Joan Riley, Councilor Stephens said,” I think she could be alright, but her hands are tied.”
Other errors, in his opinion, are making 49th St. a great road, straight out of Sapulpa; buying Town West, hoping the investment will prove sound, for “what (taxes) we’ll get out of it.” Also, taking on the swimming pool, originally begun with donated money and then “all of a sudden, the city is responsible!” The Council approving buildings in the flood plain. When the floods come, “Nope, that’s your baby!” he said.
Stephens has lived in Sapulpa a long time, “Hates to see it diminish, I want to rejuvenate the people.”
Challenger Brian Jones, on the ballot as B.C. Jones, ran against John Anderson (the other Ward 2 councilor) in 2016. He lost that race by 14 votes. Four of the eleven precincts showed not one single vote for either candidate.
B.C. Jones (Democrat) has lived his whole life in Sapulpa except for a 4-year stint in the Army, in Korea, Colorado, and Hawaii. He said, “I hated Hawaii! Not a country radio station on the whole island!”
Jones has worked for the the BNSF railway as a locomotive engineer for 18 years. He has thirteen more years to go before retirement.
Jones stated, “I am not running against anyone, I am running for the seat. I don’t know who Charles Stephens is, so it is nothing against him.”
“I think young people need to get involved, to steer this town,” he said, referring to talk of shutting down fire stations, “rolling brown outs” and other tactics, to save the city money.
“We need new and unique businesses to build up our tax base,” Jones went on. “Sand Springs, Glenpool, Jenks, and Broken Arrow have sky-rocketed with new and unique businesses and we’ve not! The population is within 500 of what it was when I graduated (SHS) in 1991.”
He said he has “some ideas, revenue-generating ideas, but it would take more than me to get together for the city. The city is like a working clock, working together, the Chamber, MainStreet, to come up with some grand ideas to promote the town.”
Jones has been a union representative for 12 years at his work. “So, representing other people is not new to me, but dealing with a governmental entity would be.”
His commitment is to do what his constituents want him to do, not necessarily what he wants to do.
“You’ve got to,” Jones stated.
B.C. Jones is married to Misty and they have three boys, one who graduated SHS last year, one in high school, and one in junior high.
The next opponent for Ward 2, is Jason Wilder, who lives on North Main in Sapulpa, and is the subject of a Sapulpa-based television show which follows the lives of Jason Wilder and Paula George, and their children, as they restore family values through the lens of life in the 1880s, like his relative, Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose book was the basis for the popular 1970s TV show “Little House on the Prairie.” “Raising Wilder” has aired on the “CW” network.
Jason Wilder’s Facebook page shows this entry: “Big Wilder news! Jason Wilder is running for city councilman in our hometown of Sapulpa . He wants to make a difference in our small town and feels this is the way to start …… #votewilder this will be in an upcoming episode of ‘Raising Wilder’!”
Repeated attempts to contact the contender by The Sapulpa Herald were unsuccessful.
The final candidate is Brian Stephens, who is a local businessman who owns CCR Construction on Line St. He said he named it CCR because people of his generation “love ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ and never forget the name!”
Brian Stephens, who is not related to Charles Stephens, is from Muscle Shoals, AL, but has made Sapulpa his home for 30 years. His wife, Gail Houston, is from Sapulpa and graduated from SHS.
“I love Sapulpa! Sapulpa has been extremely good to me,” Stephens said.
His priorities are neighborhood safety, with maintenance and infrastructure, and cleaning up the city streets. Stephens wants to “see more people involved in the election process.”
He thinks the city government is “pretty good, moving in the right direction.” He thinks the city means well, has good intentions, but, “In my humble opinion, it needs to clean up, literally. Coming into town from any direction, there is trash, weeds, and abandoned buildings.” Stephens suggested using a dump trailer once a month to make a dent in the trash.
Stephens said there are 380 abandoned properties on the books in Sapulpa, and most of them are in Ward 2. One of his pet projects would be to get those properties out from under whatever liens or taxes are owed on them, clean them up, and sell them, “ to make an asset out of a liability, and provide revenue for the city.”
Stephens is proud his company has had a hand in renovating downtown, Crossroads, the museum, office buildings, and other projects.
Prior to owning his own construction company, Stephens was a finance manager and owned “Brian’s Car Note.”
Although he has no history of public service, he has 25 years’ community service experience as past president and board member of the Sapulpa Elks’ Lodge.
Brian and Gail’s three children all attended Sapulpa schools and so do their five grandchildren.
This election is about recognizing that we “have a job to do to benefit the city, not for our own egos and pride.”
“Whether I am elected or not, I’m going to do what I’m going to do!” Stephens stated. “You don’t have to be elected to help make the city better. I am going to do it anyway, it would be easier as an elected official.”