Mayor Mick Cornett will have opposition next month in the race for mayor. Steve Hunt, a 39-year-old local activist and opponent of the MAPS 3 project, added his name to the race on Jan. 29, the last day available to file for the election.
He graduated in 2002 from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in general studies.
Featured in the article "Ax grinders," which appeared in the Jan. 6 edition of Oklahoma Gazette, Hunt said he was motivated to run because of his involvement in a number of issues pertaining to the city. He hopes to alter some of the choices made by Cornett's administration.
"Oklahoma City, I believe, supported the first two MAPS," Hunt said. "What I see now is a city that can be let on its own, but the direction I see the city taking is subsidizing big business. I want to cancel the convention center. We could save that money and put it toward saving city employees' jobs."
Hunt said some of the goals he has for municipal office start with concentrating on the city's infrastructure, creating a community-wide Wi-Fi network and preventing MAPS projects.
"I want to make OKC a center for places to where you could start a business," he said. "We've got to start focusing on infrastructure. We need an educated workforce, not a renovated Ford Center and a basketball team."
Although Hunt is active in politics, he would agree if he were called an unusual candidate. In comparison to the high-profile Cornett, an incumbent who covered politics and sports as a reporter, Hunt has never held a political office.
He is currently employed at Half Price Books on North May Avenue, where he moved after he said he was let go from FedEx in April.
"All of those (companies) are big, Fortune 500 companies," he said. "Half Price Books is a pure capitalist model. They have no debt and only open a new store when they have the inventory. It's the type of business I'd like OKC to have more of."
Robert Todd, a city employee, said he agrees with Hunt's ideas and thinks there should be more new blood like him.
"I think primarily what I've seen so far, he's new on the scene, so there is a lot to learn about him," Todd said. "But after talking with Steve, I feel like I want to support him now. I'm supporting any candidate other than Cornett."
Todd said he supports Hunt because of his ability to represent the working man. He said Cornett's plan for MAPS 3 is a good idea, but not at this time.
"Frankly, I am a proponent for MAPS," Todd said. "The first time I ever voted, I voted for MAPS 1. (Now) I don't think it's the right time, during this budget crisis. The last thing we need is a convention center. There are vacant centers, like Steve said, that are empty. Why would we build a new one?"
Hunt has always been adamant about his views against the funding of Ford Center renovations and other issues, which are displayed on his Twitter account, "okedwatch," which stands for "Oklahoman Editorial Watch."
Some of his tweets include:
""State of the City according to the Chamber appears on okc.gov as if it is something relevant to the people of okc....sick."
""To hell with Cornett. Do everything opposite what he does and the people will love you," Hunt tweeted to Hal Heiner, a mayoral candidate for Louisville, Ky.
""hey girls show me your boobies. itll create jobs, foster growth, and improve the community."
To WWLS' Jim Traber he tweeted, "You aren't a Conservative Traber. You're Nevada Based, tax-payer subsidized Citadel's little (fat) bitch."
Traber questioned Hunt's candidacy via Twitter in late January: "If anyone votes for him they are lost!!!"
Hunt defended his various Twitter updates, saying, "It's Twitter, it's nothing serious."
Just the people
He added that he isn't really interested in Cornett, "just the people of the city. They're all ones and zeroes," Hunt said of the city's leadership. "No one has come up to me publicly with a problem. They're just people playing with their gadgets. I'm not interested in what they say."
Hunt has a reputation for his provocative nature online and is known for speaking out at Oklahoma City Council meetings. He's garnered a lot of attention " and made some adversaries" from the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce to the political consulting firm CMA Strategies to Web sites like The Lost Ogle and OKCTalk.com.
Hunt particularly mentioned Pat McFerron, co-founder of CMA Strategies.
"CMA Strategies is headed by Pat McFerron, who lives in Norman," Hunt said. "He's paid by the chamber, who receives taxpayer funding. We're paying to be told what to like by someone who doesn't live here. He called me out on KGOU and accused me of not living in Oklahoma City. The chamber is private tyranny with no concern for working people."
Cornett, Traber, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and CMA Strategies declined to comment for this story.
Hunt acknowledged gaining access to Super Bowl XXXIX by posing as working media, a 2005 stunt that gained notoriety on YouTube.
"It's nothing I do anymore," he said. "I sneak into voter's hearts."
The election is March 2. "Luke Atkinson| Photo Mark Hancock
Read more about Steve Hunt in this Jan. 6 Gazette article.