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Special meeting set Wednesday

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The meeting will be in the executive conference room on the third of City Hall, 200 N. Walker Ave.

Ward 4 Councilman Pete White suggested the ward idea because of the large number of people each councilman represents. All eight councilmen have more than 70,000 residents in each ward.

White believes that increasing the wards could bring more racial diversity into the council membership.
Only one of the nine elected officials on the council, which includes the mayor, are non-white. John Pettis, Jr., is black and represents the historically African-American section of northeast OKC. Pettis defeated former Ward 7 Councilman Skip Kelly, who also is black, eight months ago in a runoff election.

There are no Asians or Hispanics on the council.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hispanic residents comprised 17.2 percent of OKC’s population while Asians made up 4 percent of city residents.

The issue was discussed two years ago, but no action was taken, White said.

The council, by its own vote, could add two new wards. However, if that doesn’t happen, White said he’s ready to begin an initiative petition to place the issue before OKC voters. The petition would require 6,000 signatures before being placed on a ballot.

Councilmen are elected by citizens from their ward, and the mayor is elected during a citywide vote.
A city council ward map can be found at www.okc.gov.

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