Eads, Dandridge to meet in general election on Tuesday, Feb. 13
By Jeff Harrison
Susan Eads never envisioned serving in public office.
But when Midwest City’s Ward One was left without a representative on the city council, Eads accepted the challenge. She was appointed to replace former councilman Daniel McClure who resigned in January 2017.
Eads knew it would take a little time to get acclimated to her new role. But she found herself learning on the fly, as the city council tackled a number of major issues including the city budget, Sooner Rose Shopping Center and Warren Theatre development and refinancing Town Center Plaza.
“I had to hit the ground running and learn the processes of being on the council and who is involved in what,” Eads said.
Eads said she’s enjoyed serving residents of Ward One during the past year, and is hoping to continue that role in the future. She will face Thurston Dandridge Tuesday, Feb. 13 in the general election.
“I have enjoyed working with the city council and I have a lot of ideas and things that I want to see happen within Ward One,” Eads said.
Eads says she and fellow councilmembers carefully evaluate all issues and concerns from residents. She rejects notions that they are a “rubber stamp” for city administration.
“We think critically about all the issues that come before us and I think we’re doing a good job,” Eads said.
Eads believes communication is a major part of her job as city councilmember. She welcomes questions and concerns from constituents and promises to address them all.
Over the past year, she’s received many concerning the Sooner Rose Shopping Center and Warren Theatre development as well as road construction on SE 15th Street. Many concerns about the movie theater project have come from residents in the Ranchets neighborhood, located just north and east of the development.
“I’ve worked to let people know what’s happening with the development and the SE 15th Street project that caused a lot of heartburn,” Eads said. “The most important thing has been to make sure those folks know what’s happening and they have opportunity to voice concerns and opinions with regard to what is happening literally in their backyard.”
Eads said she has several ideas she’d like to pursue over the next four years. She would like to see the city revise several ordinance that are difficult to understand, promote maintenance and upkeep of homes, reduce crime, promote local businesses and organizations and pursue improvements to the Original Mile neighborhood.
As a councilmember, Eads serves on the Original Mile Reinvestment Committee, Innovation District Committee, and chairs the Animal Shelter Council Committee.
Eads is an attorney with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, serving as deputy general counsel. She previously worked in private practice with experience in the insurance matters.
She has been active in her neighborhood association and local schools since moving to Midwest City in 2014.
Eads helped resurrect the parent teacher association at Jarman Middle School, when her daughter was a student there. She continues to volunteer with the Midwest City High School marching band booster club, now that her daughter is a freshman.
Eads grew up in rural Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois. She later moved to Oklahoma in 1995 to attend law school at the University of Oklahoma.
After law school, she stayed in the Oklahoma City area.
“We could live wherever we wanted, but we chose to live in Midwest City,” Eads said. “My daughter goes to school at Midwest City High School. And this is our home.”
Eads is an education advocate and regularly volunteers and supports education related organizations. She has served as a volunteer judge for high school mock trial, promoted Oklahoma Promise program, Special Olympics and others.
Eads has received support from city leaders, public safety unions, and neighborhood associations. Mayor Matt Dukes and councilmen Pat Byrne and Sean Reed have publicly endorsed Eads. Neighborhood association presidents Bonnie Barrus (Ranchets), Rella Johnson (Chessar Park) and Bobbie Holland (Atkinson Heights) have also supported Eads.
Ward One includes much of the west part of the city including the Original Mile.
Being a good neighbor is important to Thurston Dandridge.
The Midwest City man strives to make his Original Mile neighborhood a better place to live through public awareness, community engagement and volunteerism.
Dandridge is hoping to not only be an advocate for his neighborhood, but for the city as the next Ward 1 City Councilmember.
“I want to serve the people and make sure they have good leadership and not just lip service,” he said.
Dandridge will face incumbent Susan Eads Tuesday, Feb. 13 in the general election. The polls are open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Eads has represented Ward 1 for the past year. She was appointed to the city council in January 2017 to fill the unexpired term of former councilman Daniel McClure who resigned.
Dandridge promises to provide an independent voice for residents and supporter of public safety.
“I do not have any major personal agendas. My goal is to make sure the people of Ward 1 are served and have a seat at the table,” he said.
This will be Dandridge’s second bid for elected office. He ran for an open Ward 1 seat in 2014, losing to McClure.
Dandridge says he’s better prepared for this election. Since that time, he’s become more involved in civic groups and his neighborhood association.
Dandridge is president and founder of the Myrtle Lane Neighborhood Association. He started the group several years ago due to concerns about safety in his neighborhood.
“One night, someone broke into my truck and I wanted to check around and see if there were any neighborhood associations around,” Dandridge said. “I wanted to start my own association for Myrtle Lane and the people at Neighborhood Services pointed me in the right direction.”
Dandridge said he’s enjoyed connecting with neighbors to improve safety. The group also often meets with Atkinson Heights and Chesser Park, also located in the Original Mile.
He is a strong supporter of public safety and serves on the Police Community Advisory Board. The volunteer board works with the police department to reduce crime, improve communication and accountability for law enforcement.
On Friday nights in the fall, Dandridge can be seen on the sidelines at Rose Field as a member of the chain gang for Midwest City High School football games.
Dandridge said he supports the city’s efforts to improve the Original Mile and develop the Sooner Rose Shopping Center and Warren Theatres, both of which are located in Ward 1.
“The Original Mile park will give residents a place to walk and get out of the house. And the Warren Theatre will give us entertainment, create jobs, bring in people from outside Midwest City and create revenue,” he said.
The city council hopeful said he’s been less pleased with other actions taken by the city council in recent years including a new street lighting fee and stalled efforts to reduce parking vehicles on soft surfaces.
“Why are we paying a street lighting fee when some people don’t even have lights on their streets?” Dandridge said. “Street lights are deterrent for crime. But some people in the Original Mile don’t have them.”
Dandridge has received support from longtime former Ward One councilman Jerry Maynard who was term-limited in 2014.
Dandridge is a Virginia native and moved to Midwest City in 1995. He is on disability due to a back injury and previously worked as a truck driver for about 20 years with FedEx and Ryder. He is single and said most of his family lives in Virginia.