By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Bill Bridges says he doesn’t have political ambitions.
He simply wants to help the citizens of Midwest City as the next Ward 6 councilmember.
“If you call me and contact me, I am going to look into it,” he said. “I don’t care what ward you live in. I am going to get you an answer. It may not be the answer you want but I will get it.”
Bridges is challenging incumbent Rick Favors in the Ward 6 race on Feb. 13.
The longtime Midwest City resident wants to make city government more transparent and responsive to the needs of its citizens.
Bridges believes the city should provide more for its residents including a homeless shelter, health center for senior citizens and an afterschool center for children. He has been critical of the city’s new youth sports complex, saying the money could have been better spent on helping residents.
“I enjoy watching sports, but shouldn’t we take care of our homeless people before we do something like that,” he said.
The Multi-Athletic Complex (MAC), 9400 SE 29th St., was built as part of a general obligation bond issue approved by voters in 2018.
Code enforcement is another issue for Bridges. He said it’s difficult to report complaints through the city’s website and believes code enforcement officers are not properly monitoring issues in the city.
“When they write up someone’s property being bad but then you don’t say anything about the property right next door,” he said.
Bridges also questioned if the city has enough police officers and firefighters.
“People are saying they’re having their cars broken into and it takes forever to get an officer out there,” he said. “Is that because we don’t have enough officers?”
Bridges would like to change the structure of Midwest City government. The city currently operates with a council-manager system in which the city manager makes policy recommendations to the council for consideration and approval. The city manager oversees day-to-day operations of the city. Bridges wants more authority put in the hands of the city council.
“Can’t we give the mayor more authority?” he said. “We elect him as mayor to run the city.”
Bridges was born in Georgia. He grew up on his family’s farm and joined the Air Force when has 17 years old. Bridges served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 20 years, including in Thailand during the Vietnam War. He was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in 1973 and retired as a Staff Sgt. in 1977.
After retiring from the Air Force, Bridges worked in several jobs.
He worked in the motel industry as a manager and later with the Oklahoma Tax Commission and Oklahoma Highway Patrol in data processing.
Bridges later worked in the dispatch center for Midwest City and as a security officer. He primarily provided security at the Heritage Park Mall.
He and his wife have three grown children, five grandchildren and several great grandchildren.
Rick Favors joined the Midwest City City Council during a challenging time.
He ran unopposed for the Ward 6 seat in December 2019 and was sworn in about a month after the pandemic began. Favors and other city leaders prepared for the worst, predicting a downturn in revenue.
That prediction proved wrong.
“Fortunately, our economy stayed strong in Midwest City,” he said. “That first year we made it through very well.”
City management continued a conservative approach in the following years.
“We did a good job of taking care of the city and maintaining with what we had and adding people only as we needed,” he said.
Favors believes the city has made a lot of progress in the past four years and wants to continue that work with a second four-year term. The former police officer is facing challenger William Bridges in the city council election on Feb. 13.
“I want to do what is right for the citizens of Midwest City,” Favors said. “I really missed the community involvement from when I was a police officer. I feel like I’ve gotten back in that.”
Favors said if he is reelected it will be his last term in office. He does not plan to seek a potential third term.
Favors worked for the Midwest City Police Department for 24 years, retiring as captain in 2008. After retiring from law enforcement, Favors was hired by BOK Financial as fraud investigator and later corporate security manager.
In 2017, Favors made another career change and moved to the real estate industry. He now works as a mortgage lender for AMC Mortgage. His wife Theresa also works in real estate as a realtor for Coldwell Banker Select.
Favors is also working part-time with BOK in fraud investigations.
During his first term, Favors said he’s been most pleased with SSM Health Oklahoma taking over the hospital. City leaders worked with SSM and the former operator Alliance Health on the deal that also includes redeveloping the area into a mixed-use development.
“We were very fortunate in getting SSM here,” he said.
Favors has also been pleased with the city’s effort to attract Mathis Brothers in the former JC Penney building as well as American Glass and Centrillium Proteins on the north side.
“They’re going to add jobs to Midwest City and hopefully they will be shopping here and buy homes here,” Favors said.
Favors wants to see Midwest City continue growing and attracting new residents and businesses. Development on the east side has hit a bump as the city issued a moratorium on development due to capacity issues with the sewer system. Favors is frustrated about the decision but understands the reasoning.
“I understand the reason for the moratorium, but I feel like we need to move quickly,” he said. “We can’t sit and wait years for something to happen. We’ve identified the problem, and now we need to figure out how to pay for it. Then let’s move forward and get this taken care of as quickly as possible. We have developers that want to build out there.”
If the city doesn’t solve the problem, developers will build elsewhere, Favors said.
“I don’t want people moving to Edmond, Norman, Moore or somewhere else,” he said.
Favors does not believe the city is overly restrictive for residential development, but says he’ll press city management to encourage quality development. He said that should include single family homes with an array of price levels as well as senior housing.
“I try to impress on City Manager Tim Lyon and Assistant City Manager Vaughn Sullivan and their team is let’s make it to where we’re not so restrictive that people don’t want to build in Midwest City,” he said. “We’re losing those companies and businesses to other towns, and I don’t want to see it.”
Favors said the city is also working on a couple of other projects on the east side. That includes construction of a new water tower at Timber Ridge to increase water pressure on the east side of the city. Midwest City is also working to improve the intersection and drainage near SE 15th St. and Hiwassee Rd.
“If that gets flooded out people have to go way out of their way to Anderson,” he said.