Editor’s Note: In an attempt to give Route 60 readers one more chance to hear from the candidates of ward 5, we posed these questions to both candidates. Today, you will hear from challenger Diane Levesque. As a matter of fairness, and per Route 60’s long standing tradition and policy, you will be reading the answers of the candidate word for word. We do not edit them or change them in any way.
1. What economic factors do you see as being the main players in Enid’s future growth?
There are a good number of them in play in Enid, like a traffic-friendly downtown area. Another is the fact that a number of Oklahoma’s major routes set Enid at their crossroads in essentially one location. Route 60 is an outstanding example; it’s how I got to Enid from Phoenix AZ, and when my parents were on their final stretch of their life’s journeys, it’s how I got here from southern Illinois. This fact is also a growth asset In terms of getting Oklahoma commodities to market, with an almost straight shot to Tulsa and then to Port Catoosa. Oklahoma has already been doing grain business with Cuba, and now that Cuba has opened up wider, Enid stands to gain a lot with that fact in mind, thus putting Enid on the international map.
Manufacturing like the Koch nitrogen plant might be primarily a fertilizer concern, but there’s also a demand for nitrogen in other forms, like liquid nitrogen but that would be up to the firm to decide whether or not to diversify in that direction. Koch Nitrogen could be key in expanding Enid’s economic growth if it could be persuaded that a reliable local source of raw water is in its best interest because in the form of an industrial use lake, it could also be designed to be desirable to the professional bass fishermen who regularly hold lucrative tournaments. Enid has lakes, but not professional sports quality, and so a triple-purpose lake would attract sportsmen of all varieties and host our local favorite sport, quail hunting. Not to mention a scenic camping facility.
The Kaw Lake Pipeline leaves Kaw Lake to benefit Ponca City and is just an added overhead cost burden to the City, subject to renewal by powers outside of City control, whereas a local lake is not subject to permit renewals by outside entities and brings added local resources. The one demographic that the City has been overlooking for far too long is our game (wildlife) sports, local and regional.
2. How do you feel the City can help attract and, just as if not more importantly, keep talented young professionals?
The answer to that question is a tough one that media-obsessed Enid culture isn’t going to like, and that is to change its priorities from liberal arts to manufacturing science, an area deliberately downplayed in error by Engage! at the last Enid Public Schools summit. Enid makes a big deal of all our oil and gas interests, but both those interests are dependent on skilled geologists, sophisticated mechanics, roboticists, and specialty welders, which liberal arts/media programs don’t produce, thus making it necessary for oil and gas interests to seek staffing support elsewhere. Our cheers for our energy industries are naught more than empty lip service. Enid Public Schools shouldn’t have been saddled with the expense of media production in the first place.
3. What issue first made you think about running for office, and what was your position on the issue?
There were two issues that first caused me to consider running for office: the City government’s hostile take-over of the corporation called PEGASYS and its yanking of cable access to the colleges when it handed over the education channel exclusively to Enid Public Schools…and the only access the colleges had was Chautauqua. The platform about potholes was added as the result of a number of Letters to the Editor following those events. My position on all those issues haven’t changed, and with EPS paying an attorney to file a lawsuit against the State because it thought it deserved more tax money than was collected solidified my position on ETN and the exodus of downtown business led by the Ward 5 incumbent, exacerbated by the failure of Mainstreet Enid to pick up the ball where the incumbent dropped it added other planks to my platform.
I remain firm on the principle that neither the City nor the school system has any business going directly into the broadcasting business, directly competing with our commercial entities who
would better employ the advertising resources now drained by EPS in the form of sports broadcast sponsorship. We have a perfectly good local TV station, KXOK-LP, which hasn’t run programming for months now, that would be a better facility for broadcasting local school sports but aren’t afforded the sponsorship resources now demanded by EPS.
4. If every ingredient were available to you, what would you put on your dream sandwich?
Oh dear, my dream sandwich would be a Dagwood.I’d permanently prohibit any City government entity from attempting any project which directly competes with our commercial entities and that would include prohibiting self promotion. It directly competes with the Chamber of Commerce who has done a fine job of promoting Enid without that “we’re big government and we’re here to help” attitude, favored particularly by Dr. Vanhooser who has stated that he wants people to talk to the Mayor about issues. When it came to PEGASYS, that was his principle: government can do a
better job than a corporation. That means that another thing I’d put on my dream sandwich is keeping Mayor Shewey. I’d have to write at greater length to mention all the other things I’d like on that sandwich.
5. What would you say is your leadership style?
Paying close attention to constituents and then making a compelling case, in contrast to, say, Dr. Vanhooser’s exhibited style of looking like he’s listening and then does what he wants to anyway (as what occurred during Public Discussion on the subject of killing PEGASYS. Many people showed up, and, to a man, all spoke out against the idea while not one person made the case in its favor. The same can be said for the other Commissioners who voted in favor of killing PEGASYS, which include Ron Janzen and Tammy Wilson, with Ben Ezzel and Mayor Shewey
voting against). Further, if any constituent in any Ward outside Ward 5 get this kind of deaf ear treatment, they can talk to me and I myself will talk to the deaf Commissioner.
6. What types of businesses would you like to see more of in Enid?
Manufacturing and retail.
7. Do you feel that the current minimum wage is adequate, and would you be in favor of raising the City’s minimum wage?
That simple question doesn’t have a simple answer due to the exemptions enjoyed by the restaurant sector regardless of what the minimum wage might be. What needs the most reform is the wait staff exemption from minimum wage requirements because tips are expected to be part of that income. When those people who are not even paid current minimum wage get mandatory minimum wage, then we can talk about other aspects of whether or not to raise minimum wage.
8. Which historic figure would you want to meet and why?
Leonardo DaVinci because he was one of the rare few who knew how arts and sciences dovetailed.
9. If you could wave a magic wand and make one change in Enid during the last 5 years, what would that be and why?
I would change the rules about matching funds projects while protecting the Streets and Alleys fund more aggressively, I wouldn’t have bought that monster fire truck which broke the bridge on Randolph because it’s also too big to navigate our inner city streets in a timely manner, and I certainly would have a different City Commission in place, because in retrospect, we got snookered into electing the big spenders we have who think that big government is the answer even for local sports teams.
10. While the Koch Nitrogen plant expansion is great news, what else can we do to attract NEW industry to our town?
Partner with the Koch plant to create a professional quality hunting and fishing facility from which it gets its much needed water without burdening our potable water needs.
11. And lastly, the Route 60 Sentinel standard question: What’s your favorite beer?
It depends on what I’m in the mood for, actually, and I’ll do a Guinness Stout on St. Patrick’s Day. The one I purchased most frequently isn’t made anymore: Stroh’s.
The editorial board of The Route 60 Sentinel wishes to thank Mrs. Levesque for participating and completing the questions.