By Traci Chapman
Four candidates are counting down to a Tuesday election that will determine who represents Mustang City Council Wards II and VI. Those men Thursday stated their cases to Chamber of Commerce members during the organization’s monthly luncheon.
The April 2 ballot actually features three city council and one school board seat; however, the Ward I contest between Michael Ray and DeAnna Pratt became moot in January, after then Councilwoman Pratt was forced to withdraw immediately, effectively ending her campaign. Ballots for the general election were already printed at the time of Pratt’s resignation, so the race appears on them, Canadian County Election Board officials said.
Ray was sworn in to the seat in March.
The two races remaining were Ward II, where incumbent Councilman Josh Leete was challenged by 75-year-old Harold Keith Teeples, and Ward IV, which features two men who never before held public office – David Harper and Nathan Sholund.
The four candidates were given three minutes to introduce themselves to the audience, followed by a single question – all different – posed by moderator Mark Burton. Their responses were perhaps their final chance to make their case for election before Tuesday balloting.
Josh Leete – Ward II
Leete, 41, was first elected in 2016. A 13-year veteran originally from Montana, Leete joined the service in September 2000, during his service running air traffic control and airspace, in Oklahoma assigned to details in Altus, Enid and Oklahoma City. After he was injured in Iraq, Leete and his family – wife Mary and two sons – moved to Mustang. While the family loved the community from the start, it did represent a change for him on a deep level, Leete said.
“When I was an officer I oversaw about 200 troops – when I retired, there was a void,” he said. “I had no one to take care of.”
Moderator Question: Do you approve of how the city appears?
Leete cited the Imagine Mustang Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2018 and containing an extensive array of components aimed at helping guide the city’s development and growth for many years to come.
“If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you take a look at it – it’s such an impressive document,” Leete said. “There’s just a lot of beautification plans and vision to make the city even more gorgeous.”
Harold Keith Teeples – Ward II
Teeples said he lived in Mustang for 42 years; city officials believed he attended a November City Council meeting designed to encourage residents to take part in municipal government. The longtime resident said he believed city administrators over the years had worked diligently to help guide the municipality’s growth, citing former city manager Huey P. Long, someone instrumental in much of Mustang’s development.
“He (Long) was excited about growth, and a lot of that came to fruition,” Teeples said.
Moderator Question: How well do you think the city is managing growth and how could it do better?
Teeples cited the fact Mustang is landlocked to its 12-square miles, as Oklahoma City surrounds the municipality, suggesting the city should concentrate on what was located within those borders, rather than the larger areas immediately surrounding Mustang and specifically honing in on roads, technology and other infrastructure
“I don’t think it’s going to grow, I don’t see Oklahoma City giving us land – we need to take care of what’s inside our boundaries,” he said. “We need to listen to the citizens.”
David Harper – Ward VI
Harper, 56, said he became intrigued about council after learning about a special November meeting held to encourage participation in upcoming municipal elections.
“I attended that meeting and based on the welcoming and encouraging atmosphere and attitude extended by the city manager, city attorney, mayor and council members in attendance, I decided to run for Ward VI,” Harper said. “I have enjoyed being part of running for office over these past months – it’s been nice meeting and talking with people in Ward VI.”
Communications manager at Express Employment Professionals’ Oklahoma City Headquarters, Harper moved to Mustang 18 years ago, since that time taking part in community service projects like Brittany’s Play Adventure’s construction crew, as a volunteer youth soccer coach for Mustang Youth Soccer Association for several years and part of the Watch D.O.G.S. program at Mustang Public School District when his children were younger, he said.
Moderator Question: What do you think is best about the city of Mustang?
Harper said one of the things he loved most about the community was that the question of what was best about it was a difficult one to answer.
“The small-town feel, the people, the growth and recent expansion – there’s just so much that’s positive and wonderful about Mustang,” he said.
Nathan Sholund – Ward VI
A Mustang native since he was a toddler in 1991, Nathan Sholund graduated from Mustang High School in 2008, Sholund joined the U.S. Navy, deploying overseas as part of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. From there, Sholund moved to Indiana, where he attended Indiana Bible College for two years, then returning to Mustang to be near his family. He works as a contract specialist position with Defense Logistics Agency, a job that gave him hands on experience with things like contracts, costs and budgets.
While Sholund never held public office, he did previously run for council – in a three-way race also featuring current Mayor and former Ward VI representative Jess Schweinberg and late former councilman Don Mount.
“I realized I was seriously outgunned in that race with Jess (Schweinberg) – I was so young and had a lot to learn and I’ve actually really learned a lot thanks to him,” Sholund said. “With my work experience now and just with the benefit of time, I know I could do a lot of good for this city.”
Moderator Question: If you were given a $1 million grant for the city of Mustang, what would you do with it?
Sholund cited the serious ongoing needs of the city, including infrastructure items like streets, water and sewer and more.
“Those are things we always need to make investing in a priority,” Sholund said. “We also need to help business – expand our outlook, resources we offer and the like.”
Polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 2; Mustang Times will post updates throughout the evening on its Facebook page.