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Commissioner says campaign donation didn’t say vote on jail

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

Oklahoma County Commissioner Myles Davidson denied that his vote on the location for the new county jail was impacted by campaign donations that he received from an executive with the company that owns that property.

Campaign records show that William Garrett, who listed himself as a manager with Garrett and Company, donated $2,900 to Davidson’s 2022 campaign.

Davidson reported receiving more than $206,000 in donations for his 2022 campaign.

Garrett and Company Resources, LLC owns the property located at 1901 E. Grand Blvd. On Feb. 21, the Commissioners voted 2-1 to select the Grand Blvd. site as the preferred location for the new county jail.

Davidson and Commissioner Brian Maughn voted for the site, while Carrie Blumert opposed it.

Davidson said he firmly believes Grand Blvd. is the best location for the jail and said his decision was not impacted by the campaign donation or his relationship with the Garrett family.

“The Garretts are longtime friends of mine,” he said. “Patrick Jr. and I have been friends for about 30 years. They’re not just donors, they’re friends.”

Garrett and Company owns residential and commercial property throughout Oklahoma County. The more than 100-year-old company has about 100 employees and is involved in residential and commercial property, construction and housing, property development, oil and gas, manufacturing and insurance, according to its website.

According to the assessor records, Garrett and Company Recourses LLC and Willowbrook Investments LLC purchased the Grand Blvd. site for $1.4 million in 2017. They offered to sell the property to the county for $5.4 million.

“They are one of the largest property owners in Oklahoma County and it’s difficult to find undeveloped land that they do not have some type of ownership in,” Davidson said.

Davidson said he also received support from Del City Mayor Floyd Eason who has been a vocal opponent of the location which is just west of the city limits of Del City. Eason donated $500 to Davidson’s campaign in February 2022.

“So, if money had anything to do with it, it wouldn’t be down there,” Davidson said.

Eason has said he no longer supports Davidson.

“I did give him money. I wasn’t trying to sell him land,” Eason said in an interview with the Oklahoman. “At that time, I thought he was a decent guy.”

Davidson said he selected the location because it was the best site remaining on the commissioners’ list of potential locations, according to HOK, the architect selected to work on the project.
The architect evaluated the 15 proposed sites based on their sizes, distance to the county courthouse (both in miles and minutes), zoning, access to highways, the availability of utilities, soil and environmental conditions, road improvements, land costs, access to public transportation and the ability to build a single-story jail.

The E. Grand Blvd. site received the highest overall score of 90. It received the lowest score of 4 for access to public transportation. Other sites at NE 10th St. and I-35 and the Stockyards both received scores of 88.

The proposed E. Grand Blvd. site has received strong opposition from Del City and Mid-Del Schools. Several people object due to the proximity to local schools and neighborhoods, potential increases in crime, lack of public transportation and negative impact on local businesses.

Davidson argues that the area will see an increased police presence. He said they have discussed plans for a substation for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. Davidson also says the jail would bring an influx of employees to the area.

“The jail operates 24/7 and 365 days a year. There will be 400 to 500 employees working here as well as lawyers, bondsman and police officers. They’ll be working here and eating here every day,” he said.

The county is currently having the E. Grand Blvd. site appraised as well as alternative sites near Reno and Exchange avenues, I-240 and Sunnylane Rd. and the former site of Townley’s Dairy, which is north of the E. Grand Blvd. site. Davidson said they have not agreed on a price yet.

“We’re looking to do appraisals on a few sites just in case this one falls through,” Davidson said. “We don’t want to be stuck where we’re not progressing forward.”

The property will also need to be rezoned by Oklahoma City. Maughn has expressed doubt that will happen.

“I think there are a lot of challenges with this, and we may or may not see this succeed at City Hall, so I am supporting exploring our alternatives as we go through this as we are lacking in time,” Maughn said before voting to approve the E. Grand Blvd. site.

David represents District 3 which includes Edmond, Arcadia, Luther and the northern part of the county.

Blumert, who represents Midwest City and Del City as part of District 1, did not respond to requests for comment on the issue.

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