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 incumbent Tammy Wilson. 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?
I think the term growth is subjective. There are a lot of people that think of growth as getting bigger in terms of numbers, and they don’t think we need to grow at all. Then there are people, like me, that think of growth more in terms of maturity. I have often said, “We can grow up without growing out,” meaning we can recognize our full potential without necessarily becoming a bigger city.
A big factor in recent growth has been, of course, oil money. But we know that won’t last forever so we’ve tried to take advantage of it while it’s here. I think we have made some smart moves to ensure that we’ll be in a good position when or if it finally goes by the wayside by investing in things like a new waste water treatment facility, new water towers, investment in economic development areas such as the Homeland building purchase, the downtown event center and remodeling of Convention Hall, and our parks and trails system. Doing those things now puts us in a stable position where we won’t have to play catch up so much over the next several years.
In order to continue to grow or progress, I think we will have to continue to focus on the retail and economic development areas. That’s where our operating money comes from – sales tax. The more sales tax revenue we generate, the more we have to put into infrastructure needs such as streets and water.
Quality of life is a huge factor when it comes to economic development – people will not locate in a city they don’t want to live in. Citizens will not stay in town to shop if they don’t have options. We need to make Enid a place people want to be and want to stay to spend their money.
2. How do you feel the City can help attract and, just as if not more importantly, keep talented young professionals?
Attracting and keeping young professionals will rely almost completely on quality of life issues. People want places to shop and they want places to relax and they want places to be entertained. If we don’t have those things, we lose those people. They may seem like frivolous things on their faces, but the reality is that we lost a huge company for that very reason – they could not attract the caliber of employees they needed because they would not come to Enid to live because we simply could not meet their needs. Enid has a lot of rural areas around it but we are not a farm town – we are a small city and as such, we need to have the amenities that cities offer. That doesn’t mean we need to be like Oklahoma City or Tulsa, it means we need to meet the needs of the modern citizen.
3. What issue first made you think about running for office, and what was your position on the issue?
I’ve always thought I would run for some sort of public office, but what prompted me to run in 2010 was the loss of the bond election. I was sad to see it fail as I was excited about the vision to revitalize downtown. I also saw the disconnect between the government and the citizens. I felt like the communication between the two needed to be better. I wanted to be part of moving Enid forward and I wanted to help bridge the gap between the government and the citizens.
4. If every ingredient were available to you, what would you put on your dream sandwich?
My very favorite sandwich to make at home is crunchy peanut butter and bacon. Don’t judge it until you’ve tried it :).
5. What would you say is your leadership style?
I think my leadership style is straightforward and honest. I don’t sugar coat things and I don’t beat around the bush. I address things with facts that can be verified. The way I look at it is that the truth will be the truth regardless of who conveys it – if people don’t want to hear it from me, they can look up or verify what I’ve said and it’s going to be the same. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said. Sometimes this has lead people to believe that maybe I am being aggressive or cold and that isn’t the case, I just try not to become emotional and I try to make people look at things by removing emotion from it and thinking logically about it. It’s hard to do that and it’s something you have to consciously do, so I understand the emotional side (and I’m not saying I’m not ever emotional, I’m incredibly emotional), but when you’re dealing with facts, it’s best to keep it on that level.
Something else I do as a leader is try to be as accessible as possible to people. I try to address issues and concerns and I answer emails and phone calls and welcome discussions about Enid all the time. I want everyone else to love Enid as much as I do and I want people to be as passionate about learning about the issues as I am.
6. What types of businesses would you like to see more of in Enid?
I would like to see a better variety of restaurants and more options for 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?
No, I don’t think it’s adequate and yes, I would be in favor of raising it some. However, not to the point it hinders a business owner’s ability to conduct business. I understand the struggle on both sides. I think wages in Enid ought to be higher in general. Rent is high here and while Enid has a relatively low cost of living, we aren’t keeping up with inflation in terms of wages.
8. Which historic figure would you want to meet and why?
Benjamin Franklin – he seems like a pretty fascinating guy that had a lot of ideas. I like idea people.
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?
If I could change any one thing in regard to Enid, it would be to not have had Benson leave yet. We saw more good things happen in the last 8 years than we had seen in 30 before that. It wasn’t necessarily that he did all those things, but he certainly gave us the kick we needed to get started and he was very good at rallying the troops and staying the course. Everyone may not have loved his style but he got things done. I know there comes a time for things to change, but we had a great relationship and we worked well together, so it’s primarily for selfish reasons.
10. While the Koch Nitrogen plant expansion is great news, what else can we do to attract NEW industry to our town?
In order to attract new industry to Enid we’re going to have to continue addressing the infrastructure issues. We’re working on the water issue so that’s on the way. One of the first things we get asked by industrial folks is what our water situation is. And just like with any other economic development, you still have to tackle the quality of life issues if you want to attract any kind of business to Enid.
11. And lastly, the Route 60 Sentinel standard question: What’s your favorite beer?
Beer. I love all kinds of beer. Domestic would be Blue Moon or Miller Lite. I also love Stella, Chimay Blue, and Strawberry Abita.