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Getting involved

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As a successful spinal surgeon, Ed Shadid became a wealthy man with all sorts of riches and blessings. He has enjoyed the best of the best because cost has never been a factor.

Yet, for this longtime Oklahoma City resident, something was missing. Then it happened. An epiphany hit Shadid as he was trapped inside his car under an Interstate 40 overpass during an EF-4 tornado in May 2010. He had made his fortune. It was time to give back and help others.

With no previous political experience, Shadid entered a state House election later that year but lost. Undeterred and determined to serve the public, Shadid filed for the OKC Ward 2 seat, which was being vacated by incumbent Sam Bowman.

Faced with stiff odds and opposition, Shadid prevailed with a general election win over bank officer Charlie Swinton in April 2011. Shadid received 62 percent of the vote.

“I had thought about political engagement, but I believed the stigma of being in (drug) recovery would keep me from it. But then, I saw that day (of the tornado) as life-changing. I just needed a little push, and the universe gave it to me,” he said.

Three years later, Shadid seeks the OKC mayor’s chair against three-term incumbent Mick Cornett.

“I do believe and listen when I hear Christ say that once you’ve accumulated enough money and all your needs are met, you should not work toward further accumulation of wealth,” Shadid said. “In my case, it leads to spiritual bankruptcy.”

Having overcome a marijuana addiction and a bitter divorce, Shadid said he’s now using his wealth to help others “who have no voice, especially the poor.”

Some of those personal resources are being used to largely finance his mayoral campaign, a similar strategy that was employed in the 2011 Ward 2 race. Shadid claims he won’t accept campaign contributions from special interest groups or political action committees. Candidates must file their first campaign contribution and expense reports Feb. 18-24.

City vision
As mayor, Shadid said he would focus on “maximizing public participation” in government decisions while addressing public transit needs and allocating more city money into neighborhood restoration efforts and parks.

“I want to connect and develop retail and residential [areas] around place-making investments
like the Plaza District and Midtown and then connect those hubs of
activity with transit, trails and sidewalks,” he said.

Shadid
wants sidewalks and trails built in areas where they will be used and
“not on the outer edges of the city where no one lives.”

Shadid
claims several miles of sidewalks funded by MAPS 3 and a 2007 bond
issue have been constructed in outlying areas with no immediate
development plans.

“We’re
spending all this money on something that isn’t being used by our
citizens,” he said. “The money needs to be used to enhance the
(inner-city) neighborhoods that have been ignored for much too long.”

Shadid
said he will continue his support of most MAPS 3 projects but still has
questions about the need for a new $252 million convention center and a
headquarters hotel. Shadid contends the hotel, which is not a MAPS 3
project, might require a public subsidy if built.

Shadid,
endorsed by the police and firefighter unions, also is a vocal advocate
for more police officers and better living conditions for firefighters.
In some instances, he said, firefighters are living in quarters that
are decades old with structural problems.

Shadid
promised to address drug abuse and addiction in OKC. Police officials
said both contribute to a spike in drug and property crimes.

“We
have to address the police manpower deficiency,” he said. “We’re down
250 to 300 officers, and the mayor refuses to discuss long-term
solutions.”

Getting engaged
Shadid
vowed to remain “engaged” with all segments of OKC, from the
traditional power brokers to the less fortunate who rely on public
transit buses for their transportation to and from work. Shadid contends
Cornett and his supporters are most concerned about MAPS 3 projects and
the downtown area.

“He’s
not speaking to the council. He’s nowhere to be found until election
time, and he’s refusing to debate,” the councilman claimed. “Playing it
politically safe isn’t a sign of good leadership.”

Shadid
touts the town hall-style meetings he has hosted across OKC as a way to
inform citizens about key issues. Since announcing he would seek the
mayor’s seat, Shadid and his campaign have held town hall gatherings
with experts speaking on public health, transit and the MAPS 3
convention center and hotel, coupled with a campaign kickoff rally that
drew several hundred people.

“This
is a new phenomenon for city politics,” Shadid said of the town hall
meetings. “This is one of many ways we can get more people involved in
the process so they can know they are part of the decision-making
process.”

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