Coleman visits Barnsdall Chamber

Robert Smith
Bill Coleman

BARNSDALL — Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, on June 11 told members of the Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce he will make inquiries for them in Oklahoma City regarding a question about whether a legal change could be made that would allow people who own businesses in the city but live outside it to vote in municipal elections.

Claud Rosendale, chamber president, noted the group had already raised the issue, but had done so too late for consideration during the Oklahoma Legislature’s 2019 regular session.

Coleman said he had talked with the secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board, who had told him the question of making it possible for owners of business properties in cities, but whose residences are outside those cities, to vote in municipal elections had been considered before. The state election board secretary said it would be necessary to exercise caution in considering any changes.

Coleman pointed out — as a potentially problematic example — that he lives in Ponca City and has business interests in Stillwater.

Coleman did, however, express the view that perhaps some sort of arrangement could be made for small municipalities with business owners who live in close proximity to those communities, but outside their corporate limits.

“So, like a 10-mile radius?” he said at one point, as he was discussing possibilities with the Barnsdall chamber members.

“You all have asked me to see what I can do with this, and I will see what I can do with this,” Coleman said.

Coleman, who is in his first year as the District 10 member of the Oklahoma Senate, also told chamber members June 11 that they might not have liked his vote regarding four-day weeks for public schools. Barnsdall Public Schools uses a four-day instructional week.

“I will tell you that I voted to end the four-day week,” Coleman said. He explained that new regulations are to be implented during the 2021-22 school year that will set financial and academic standards for school districts to meet if they wish to continue using a four-day week. Those regulations will be designed by the Oklahoma State Department of Education and will have to be approved by the Legislature, he said.

Coleman acknowledged there have been some good results from the use of a four-day instructional week, but he also said Oklahoma lost some potential economic gains when the word went out nationwide that Oklahoma wasn’t funding its schools well enough for them to afford a five-day week.

“I mean it put a black eye on us,” he said, noting that some businesses decided not to bring their operations to the state.

Rosendale asked if there is a way to mandate a stoppage to athletic events if there is ever another teacher walkout, like the one in the spring of 2018.

Coleman said he hopes the state can build a good enough education system that there will be no more teacher walkouts.