By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Marc Thompson understands the frustration of feeling like your voice isn’t being heard.
And the satisfaction of reaching a compromise.
Thompson and fellow residents opposed a 200-unit apartment complex planned for the Ridgecrest neighborhood.
“That just seemed wrong to me that the city would rezone a single-family residential area to allow someone to put in 200 apartments, so I started getting vocal about it,” he said.
They eventually reached a compromise, and the developer modified the project.
“It showed me how difficult and frustrating it can be for somebody outside of the system to get the attention and be heard by the planning commission and city council,” he said. “Someone coming in and speaking for two minutes is not necessarily impactful enough to effect change.”
Thompson realized he could be more effective as a member of the city council. Incumbent Sean Reed did not seek reelection, creating an open race for Ward 4.
“If you want to get in the game, you need to be on the team so I’m trying to do that,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he would be a voice for the people and communicator between the public and city staff. He said he will be responsive for residents’ issues no matter the size, and work to understand both sides.
“Even though people are interested in the large-scale projects like resurfacing of streets and building of a new park, the most important issues come down to their neighbor’s trash cans are ugly or a barking dog in the neighborhood,” he said.
Thompson was born in Midwest City but grew up in Dayton, Ohio after his father was transferred through the military. He returned to Midwest City in the summers to visit family and eventually moved back after college.
“Midwest City and Oklahoma was always home even though I spent 16 years in Ohio,” he said.
He started his career with OETA but his path took a turn after leading a successful fundraising event for public television.
“We raised over $100,000 which was beyond anyone’s expectations,” Thompson said. “And so suddenly I became much more valuable to the organization as a fundraiser than I ever would have been as a video tape editor or investigative journalist.”
Thompson spent much of his career in fundraising for non-profit organizations.
He worked for public television in California for two years, and later returned to take a job at Oklahoma State. He worked with other universities across the country before finally landing at Oklahoma City University as an assistant dean of the law school.
After retiring about 10 years ago, Thompson has continued to work as a consultant in fundraising for local non-profit organizations as well as a substitute teacher at Bishop McGuinness High School.
“I enjoy being a role model for young people when they’re making big decisions about what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Thompson’s focus shifted towards Midwest City in recent years. He has been president of the Ridgecrest Neighborhood Association for two years, serves on the Midwest City Parks and Recreation Board and is a member of the Midwest City Rotary Club.
Thompson’s goal is to make Midwest City residents proud of their community. He said they can achieve that through quality city services, thriving businesses and residents taking pride in their community.
“It’s always been important to me, and I want other people to understand and feel that it is a good place for them to live and they can proudly say ‘I am from Midwest City’ and that that means something,” Thompson said.
Ward 4 has four huge projects that are coming up. Thompson said it will be important for residents to have a voice in the direction of these. The projects include redevelopment of the area around SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital, plans for acquiring the former Heritage Park Mall, revamping of Air Depot Blvd. and the City’s partnership with the YMCA and Mid-Del Schools in relocating and building a new YMCA facility and aquatic center.
“Those are decisions that in part would fall into my domain as a city councilperson,” Thompson said. “I want my opinion to be a reflection of what the people in the community feel.”
Nicholas Timme calls Midwest City the “best kept secret” in the metro.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction, and I want to keep us moving in that direction,” Timme said. “We’re building, we’re expanding, we’re getting new housing and we’re investing in our infrastructure.”
Timme is hoping to help shape the city’s future as the next Ward 4 city council member. He’s one of three candidates running for the open seat, joining Marc Thompson and Charles Wallace. Incumbent Sean Reed is not seeking reelection.
The Midwest City native went to Carl Albert High School and later Rose State College and UCO. He earned a master’s in public administration and works as a company executive officer with the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
He serves on the city’s Traffic and Safety Commission, Unity and Diversity Committee and Capital Improvement Board. He is vice president of the Country Estates Neighborhood Association. He also participated in the Citizens Police Academy and Leadership Midwest City.
The Heritage Park Mall is top of mind for residents in Ward 4, Timme said.
“I’ll get a question every now and again if I’ll address Air Depot development or polishing up streets, but
for the most part it’s always about the mall,” he said.
Timme said he agrees with the city’s efforts to acquire the mall property including potentially by use of eminent domain. He said had great memories of the mall as a child and hopes the city can make something positive out of it.
The city is waiting for an appraisal of the property and will then try to acquire it through negotiations or eminent domain.
“It is expected that whoever wins this seat will be the one to tackle that future,” he said.
Timme says he likes plans for the hospital district which include transforming the area into a mixed-use development with urban style housing, a public gathering space, and new office, retail and restaurants.
“It’s very ambitious and I think ambition is what we need for that area,” he said. “It’s the same ambition we’ll probably need for Heritage Park Mall. I’ve been told that they (SSM) are taking a lot of inspiration from their Midtown location.”
Timme said he would also like to see movement on the city’s plans to revitalize Air Depot Blvd.
“That is a major vein in the city, and it was developed when the city did, but it needs to be polished up,” he said.
Local businesses play an important role in creating a thriving community. Timme wants to make sure the city is working with businesses of all size.
“How can we make business [permit] applications equitable for everybody and how can we make this process easier for everybody,” he said. “It’s a lot easier for Walmart to come in here and get the permits, but if you have a small mom and pop shop these things can be debilitating.”
This will be Timme’s second bid for city council. He lost to incumbent Ward 2 councilman Pat Byrne in 2020. Timme is now in Ward 4 after the city’s redistricting.
Timme said he’s learned a lot from his last campaign. He’s saving money by making signs at home, increased door knocking, targeting voters who vote in municipal elections and hosting more events.
Charles Wallace wasn’t discouraged by an unsuccessful bid for mayor a couple years ago.
When the next opportunity presented itself, he didn’t hesitate.
Wallace is making another run for public office, this time as a candidate for Ward 4 city council.
“If I didn’t win the mayoral election, some of the people in the neighborhood brought up the idea of running for city council when Sean Reed (Ward 4 councilmember) leaves his post,” Wallace said. “So, the time came up and I went ahead and did it. I’m hoping I still have their support. We’ll see. It’s been a couple years.”
Wallace says he has the skills and time to make a difference in his hometown.
“I’m retired, I’m educated, and I’d like to be able to give back to the city and serving on the city council seems like a good way to do that,” Wallace said.
The future of the Heritage Park Mall is the biggest issue in Ward 4, Wallace said.
“We have great neighborhoods, and our slice of the city is doing great sans the mall,” Wallace said.
He agrees the mall needs to be addressed but doesn’t like the use of eminent domain.
“Because it’s not a true detriment I truly don’t believe the city should force anyone to sell it,” he said. “It’s not a crack house, it’s not leaking chemical waste, it’s just an eyesore. I would like to see it improved I just don’t like the idea of the city forcing that.”
Wallace said he opposed an apartment development in the Ridgecrest neighborhood. The development was eventually modified after strong pushback from the Ridgecrest Neighborhood Association.
“They were going to be apartments and now it will be townhomes which is a big improvement,” he said. “I know most of the citizens are against that kind of development.”
He said he took a hands-off approach in the last election and will do so again this time.
“I don’t like it when people bother me and come to my house to sell me something or change my opinion so that’s the approach I took with the last election,” he said. “I tried to treat people the way I would want to be treated. I spoke to people online and I used Nextdoor to communicate. I was invited to neighborhood associations so I could speak and meet the people. Nothing invasive and nothing annoying.”
Wallace said he’s all ears for residents of Ward 4.
“I’m available if anyone has questions or wants to talk but I’m not going to rundown people during the election process because right now I’m just a candidate I have no authority or true influence,” he said.
Wallace was born in Memphis, Tennessee and his family moved to Midwest City in 1998 when his father was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base. Wallace graduated from Midwest City High School in 2001 and joined the Marine Corps.
He served two tours in Iraq and was injured in the second. In 2015, he retired from the military due to medical issues and moved back to Midwest City. He opened a martial arts school called Hoshin Dojo and recently worked as a mediator at the Oklahoma County Courthouse.
Wallace earned a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Liberty University. He also has a master’s degree in mediation and arbitration from Excelsior College.
He and his wife have one daughter.