Ray slated for Ward I seat after Pratt resigns from city council
By Traci Chapman
While voters living in Mustang City Council’s first ward will have a choice to make on their April 2 municipal ballots that choice is now a moot point after Councilwoman DeAnna Pratt announced her resignation from the board.
That resignation means 36-year-old Michael Ray – who was set to face Pratt in the general election – will be the next individual to take the Ward I seat, possibly as early as February or March through appointment before the April 2 date.
Pratt was appointed to the Ward I seat about a year ago in the wake of two back-to-back resignations by Ward I councilmen, Kevin Riley and Mark Quigley. She sent a Jan. 7 letter addressed to Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney, advising she must immediately resign her position as Ward I representative for personal reasons.
“I appreciate the opportunity given to me to serve the citizens of Ward I up to this point,” Pratt stated in her letter. “I have learned a lot from my participation in the council.”
The councilwoman stepped up at an unusual time of upheaval on Mustang City Council, applying for the seat during a period that saw not only Riley and Quigley’s resignations, but also the transition of Jess Schweinberg from Ward VI councilman to mayor – after the retirement of longtime Mayor Jay Adams – and departure of longtime Councilwoman Linda Hagan, who retired due to health issues. Pratt’s choice to join the municipal body, particularly at such a transitional time, prompted praise from both Rooney and those who served with her.
“Councilor Pratt volunteered to serve at a time when we couldn’t get anyone to step up – she wanted to give back to her community and this was an educational process for her,” the city manager said. “I know both the staff and her fellow councilors appreciated her for doing so.”
Officials hoped to spread the word that Pratt had given up the seat before voters head to the polls in April. Pratt stated in her resignation letter she attempted to remove her name from ballots but was advised by Canadian County Election Board officials it was too late.
Normally, the winner of the April 2 election would be sworn in during council’s May 7 meeting – which could be one way to move forward now. However, officials said that would leave a vacuum in Ward I representation for two or more months – something unnecessary, particularly since it was already known Ray would take the seat after the election, in light of the fact he now faces no opposition.
“I can only speak for myself but it simply makes sense to appoint Mr. Ray as soon as we can, so we can move forward with a complete board,” Mayor Jess Schweinberg said.
A 2001 Mustang High School graduate, Ray attended Gateway College of Evangelism in St. Louis before returning home to take the position of youth pastor at Mustang’s Empowered Church. There, he would find a home, serving as the church’s youth pastor for eight years before becoming administrative pastor in 2016.
“As youth pastor I did extensive campus ministry – doing things like visiting students during their lunch hour, attending games and just trying to support them and build meaningful relationships with them,” Ray said. “As administrative pastor, I’ve become even more involved in the community and am always looking for meaningful ways to aid individuals and the community as a whole.”
While Ray never before held public office, representing Ward I is a challenge he’s excited to begin, he said.
“I want the very best for Mustang,” Ray said. “I believe that we are a unique, close-knit community that has so much to offer and I want to be a part of building a great community for our residents – what better way to get involved and get a feel for the heartbeat of the community than to be a voice for the people?”
As he prepares to join Mustang council, Ray said he was looking both to the past and future, acknowledging both the contributions made by Pratt during her time in the Ward I seat and the benefits and challenges facing Mustang as it moves forward.
“I really respect and value what Councilwoman Pratt has done in the past year; she’s shown great commitment to family, to her business and to the community – and I look forward to working not only with the city staff but also Ms. Pratt to get insight into all she’s learned,” Ray said. “Mustang is growing at an enormous rate – I see some of the problems we’ve run into as far as infrastructure and growth; I want to help find that spot, where we don’t lose all that ‘small town charm’ and sense of community, but we also embrace our city’s motto ‘a city with a vision.'”
“I’d like to see the businesses/enterprises that come to Mustang bring not only monetary value but cultural value as well,” he said.
Ray and his wife Sherelle have been married 12 years and have two sons, ages 4 and 6.