Will there be changes in Edmond? Ask the whimsical frog.
Edmond residents will have an opportunity to vote for a new mayor this year, but many of the problems facing Edmond will not simply disappear with regime change. Development, the double-edged sword for Edmond residents for decades, will again be brought to the forefront of the political debate, and with the departure of Mayor Saundra Naifeh, there will be no respite from either the question of development or the never-ending traffic disaster that is Edmond.
But there is one question, one issue, that has plagued the citizens of Edmond and which no one dares ask out loud, because within the bowels of the answer is the very essence of Edmond's future. No one's asked it, that is, until now.
Will Naifeh take the whimsical frog statue once parked outside her office with her when she leaves, or will she lend its supreme power to the next mayor?
Clearly one of the most critical issues facing the city of Edmond leadership in the last few years was the decision to purchase a series of statues to decorate the landscape: a fox that more resembles Scooby-Doo, a hog and chicken right outside the Java Dave's, a child and, of course, Naifeh's frog, which showed her whimsical side.
Naifeh's legacy will include explosive growth in the city, her ability to be a lovely spokesperson for the community, her support for pro-business developers and her willingness to work with many Republican candidates for higher office who wanted to reach the coveted GOP voters of one of Oklahoma's fastest growing suburbs. A suburb that has transformed itself under her leadership from bedroom community into a thriving business community in its own right.
Yet, for most conservatives (not neoconservatives), Naifeh's legacy will include the utility-subsidized funding of Edmond's metallic barnyard animals, including the mayor's whimsical frog (although Edmond is seeing a serious depletion of anything related to farms of late " perhaps the art was designed to be a reminder of a time long since past). And we cannot forget the 22,000 door hangers that Naifeh and volunteers distributed discouraging underage drinking. Boy, did recipients get a surprise when they called the number printed on the fliers. No matter who you are, that was just plain funny.
Edmond residents have for years tried to find an opponent for Naifeh, but the power of the magical, whimsical frog was just too much to overcome. As if Naifeh's charm, her bright smile and golden locks weren't a tough enough hurdle, the enigma of the whimsical frog has destroyed any possible contender to the race for Edmond mayor. Naifeh's followers have been loyal, hardworking and doggedly determined to ensure the keeper of the frog remains in office.
Which brings us back to the biting (or hopping) question: Will the mayor take the frog with her, or will she allow its devastating power to be turned over to the next mayor? The future of Edmond depends upon it. - Ron Black
Black, the artist formerly known as "The 400-Pound Gorilla," is a former talk show host and political consultant living in Edmond.