Pettis Resignation Regrettable
He Did More Than Any Other for Economic Development
By WILLIAM CRUM The Oklahoman
Pettis – young man had rough start as councilman but matured.
Started there go moving in right direction and we applaud him for that.
w/o economic development communitys die.
He’s one of the reasons for improved diversity and investment of capital will make a difference for community.
Hasn’t been tried so do not pass judgment but we wish him well.
Sad day for community, done more for economic development than anyone else.
John Pettis won his Oklahoma City Council seat by championing plans to bring jobs to predominantly African-American northeastside neighborhoods, while benefiting from doubts about the character of his predecessor.
Pettis, 35, was charged Friday with embezzlement and failing to file state tax returns, allegations that could force him from his council seat.
He is one year into his second four-year term on the council. A political newcomer, then 30-year-old Pettis trailed two-term incumbent Ronald “Skip” Kelly in the crowded Ward 7 primary in March 2013.
He rebounded to win the April runoff with 61.7 percent of the vote and took office that month.
Pettis campaigned on promises of tying developers’ economic incentives to local hiring.
He drew support from labor, Realtors and the Fraternal Order of Police, the latter calling for a councilman who would “stand up against crime.”
It was a jab at Kelly, who had been arrested in 2009 and 2012 on drunken driving accusations. “Integrity” came up that spring in conversations with voters.
Chuck Ford, a former teacher who ran a window tinting business, said Kelly lacked it.
Former state Rep. Kevin Cox said he thought Pettis was a “man of integrity.”
Pettis pressed for redevelopment of Northeast Town Center, a long-blighted shopping center at NE 36 and Kelley Avenue.
Save-A-Lot opened a grocery store there in January, providing a needed anchor for the project.
Pettis worked with Urban Renewal on revival of the NE 23 commercial corridor, being led by the Pivot Project development partnership.
In 2017, Pettis won re-election with 80.7 percent of the vote in a three-way primary.
Pettis’ first term was marked by controversy when he and Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner, both newly elected, accepted free tickets to a corporate suite for the 2014 Cotton Bowl.
The tickets were offered by an executive of Waste Management of Oklahoma, which had millions of dollars in trash hauling, recycling and landfill management contracts with the city of Oklahoma City.
Ticket packages were worth close to $900 each.
The city attorney said there was nothing illegal about the arrangement but other council members said it created an appearance of impropriety.
In 2017, Pettis called it a “complete oversight” when he filed incomplete campaign finance reports. Several reports were filed late as well.
Pettis reported raising $115,600 for his 2017 re-election and spending $114,000.
Pettis was sued in January 2017 by Michael C. Washington, who claimed he was removed by security officers, acting at Pettis’ direction, from a 2016 Ward 7 town hall meeting.
Washington frequently appears at city council meetings and, during time allotted for citizens to address the council, criticizes and belittles Pettis.
Pettis announced last October that he would run as a Democrat for Oklahoma County District 1 commissioner. The primary election is next month.
John A. Pettis Jr....For mor editorials, subscribe to the blackchronicle newspaper