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Candidates begin final push for votes during forum

All seven candidates running for city council next week were on hand for a forum Thursday night where topics ranged from the Williams Foods grocery store contract, repairing roads and some strong talk against the use of negative advertising during the election.

The forum was hosted by the Piedmont Chamber of Commerce at the Piedmont United Methodist Church and moderated by Craig Smith, a field representative for Sen. Tom Coburn. Close to 70 residents were in attendance and a handful of candidate responses resulted in applause from the audience, including remarks made by Ward 4 candidate Charles Coffman who spoke out against his opponent’s campaign.

Leon Meyer and Councilman Vernon Woods talk before Thursday's candidate forum hosted by the Piedmont Chamber of Commerce. (Ben Felder)

“One thing we could do to make Piedmont better is to not to have this,” Coffman said while holding up a flyer sent out by a Councilman Hoss Cooley that projected Coffman in a negative light. The comments were made by Coffman in his closing remarks and brought the largest applause of the evening.

Cooley did not address the flyer but told the audience he believed the city was headed in the right direction, especially with all of the changes that have been made with city administration.

“Our town is actually run like a business,” Cooley said. “For the first time I think our town is headed in the right direction.”

Neither Ward 4 candidate made direct mention of each other but Coffman did highlight problems he felt were created by the current council, including the continued delay on the Williams Foods contract.

“When you look at Piedmont right now you see risk,” Coffman said in direct reference to the city’s unfriendly business climate that he said was a result of not paying the grocery store its owed tax incentives. Coffman was joined by Albert Gleichmann and Vic Sanders in criticizing the current council for it’s handling of the Williams Foods contract.

Gleichmann and Sanders are running against Councilman Jeff Davis for the Ward 3 seat and said they would vote to pay the grocery store its money.

Jeff Davis talks about what he would do to repair local roads, including looking into a possible tax on commercial trucks that drive through town. (Ben Felder)

“We need to resolve the issue with Mr. Williams,” Sanders said when asked how the council could project a positive image of Piedmont. Gleichmann had a similar answer and said the arguments on the council had to come to an end if the city was ever going to move forward.

Davis never specifically addressed the grocery store contract but did say he believed the city needs “growth in businesses that are tax revenue businesses and we need, as a city council, to not give away all the money we have coming in here.” The statement could have been interpreted in reference to Williams Foods as Davis has previously voted against the deal after saying incentives for the store – with interest – is a bad deal for the city.

Cooley, who has voted against the grocery store incentives, said he felt the council had upheld its end of the bargain when it came to the Williams Foods incentives.

“I don’t think we have done anything wrong,” Cooley said. “I think we have upheld our end of the bargain with every business we have brought to this town.”

Ward 2 candidates Leon Meyer and Councilman Vernon Woods never addressed each other. Woods said several times during the forum that he felt the city had developed a bad reputation due to its handling of the Williams Foods grocery store, and while Meyer never specifically addressed the topic of the store, he said it was time for the city to move past some of its challenging issues.

Ward 4 candidate Charles Coffman drew the largest applause of the forum when he criticized negative campaigns in week before the election. (Ben Felder)

“I just think that we have to get five people on that council that will put things aside and do what’s best for Piedmont and the people of Piedmont,” Meyer said. Meyer also said the city needed to find ways to grow in both residents and businesses in order to increase revenue for services and infrastructure.

While the grocery store contract was a common topic during the forum, so were roads as each candidate acknowledged the city’s streets were in need of work. Meyer, who said he would be willing to look at a bond to fix the roads, maintained that the city must also figure out a way to maintain any streets it replaces. Woods said a bond issue was the only way the city could make major progress on its streets and even said a recently proposed $4.5 million bond might not be enough.

“It’s going to have to be a bond issue,” Woods said. “In my mind the proposed bond issue is not nearly enough; it’s just a first step.”

Coffman said the city should also look at creating inter-local agreements with Canadian County and Cooley said as a councilman he had been working to build a relationship with Oklahoma City to partner on road repair projects.

Davis suggested looking into a way to tax commercial trucks that drive on Piedmont streets with the revenue going to road repair. Gleichmann said taxing trucks wouldn’t work and Sanders said the only real solution was a bond that “the people of this town can live with.”

The candidates were also asked if they felt the city charter should be revised or rewritten and all seven candidates said they were in favor of making changes to the charter.

Cooley said there are “too many holes” in the charter and complained that it was too easy to recall a councilman. A recall campaign against Cooley last year successfully set a recall election date but the councilman was able to defeat the election in court.

“People can recall you because they just don’t like you,” Cooley said.

Whether or not the forum will impact voter decisions is up for debate and when Woods asked if any in the audience had not yet made up their mind there were virtually no hands raised. However, the forum did give voters another chance to hear the candidates address some of the biggest issues with just five days left before the April 3 election.

Those currently on the council said they felt the city was moving in the right direction, although Woods, who has found himself in a political minority on the council, seemed to side with those challenging for office that said the council struggled with a lack of trust from the public.

“There is no trust between the people of this town and the city council,” Sanders said. There is no trust in anything in this town right now.”

How much this town trusts its current council will determine the shape of city leadership next week.

41 Comments

  1. Lauren says:

    Hoss Cooley was recalled because he voted on his business partners PUD. Conflict of interest. The only reason the recall was dismissed was the Petitioners signed their names on last page instead of the bottom of every page. It was a legitimate reason for recall. The people that signed the recall know this. And it wasn’t just because people “didn’t like” him or because he has a friend people don’t like.

  2. Reagan Republican says:

    All I can say I am tired of the negative BS from Hoss Cooley and pointless and rambling letters, I hope the voters wise up and vote Hoss Cooley our of office. I am so tired of his political lies!

    • JT says:

      I thought the letter his attorney wrote to summarize the grocery store fiasco was well written. No one has been able to explain to me why we should pay Mr. Williams 5.75% interest on top of the $1.9 or $2 million he is owed.

      • @JT- I know it is hard to keep up with this since they have asked me to rewrited four agreements (and Mr. Bass, their attorney is blaming me for those four agreements, three of which were written by the Piedmont City attorneys) but the interest was never at 5.75%. It started at 5.5% and I agreed to the council in executive session (the meeeting we all shook hands on a deal) that I was in the process of closing both notes and the rate would be whatever I was being charged at the banks. I closed on both notes in the past three weeks and that rate is now 4.875% and Mr. Cooley and Mr. Davis already had been told that it was no more than 5.25% and I told the council I thought it would come in lower but they dont want that out there to the public. So they continue to spew lies and half truths in this ordeal. I need to also look up the council meeting in which they said no to all the sales tax until the debt was paid. ALL THE COUNCIL MEETINGS MINUTES ARE PUBLIC AND NEED TO BE READ BY THE PEOPLE. IT WILL PROVE WHO IS LIEING. Start with the December 2009 one that is a good read.

  3. Reagan Republican says:

    I am placing my support and trust behind Charles Coffman, Al Gleichmann and Vernon Woods for city council, these three men will bring independence and common sense with no strings attached and not beholding to the realtors and homebuilders with their special interests pulling their strings for political favors. We dont need anymore lies from the
    organizers behind the chairmen and his henchmen of the citizens for a better piedmont. The lies must stop with this election on April 3rd. Go out and excersise your right to vote and send a message back to the puppet master.

  4. grace wolfert says:

    Reagan republican really, you are placing the town in the hands of the liberal government nanny state types? Besides you can’t vote for them all? Can you? Thought that was a ‘demo’ trick.

  5. JT says:

    What exactly was the flyer that Coffman held up? I have read everything Hoss has mailed out, and don’t remember him even referencing his opponent. Can Ben or another commenter please clarify?

    • admin says:

      JT, we will have a story later today or tomorrow providing more details about the flyer. Still gathering more info. Thanks, Ben

      • Mary says:

        It would be nice if it would appear today, before the voting begins. Also, where is the video? I am having trouble locating it.

  6. Reagan Republican says:

    Grace, only political tricks are committed by the one rich developer who was the chairmen of the nasty lieing fliers in last years campaign and they are starting again this year, you know what they say fool me once……………

  7. Amazed says:

    its funny how a paid attorney (by Hoss Cooley) who never sat at a city council meeting, nor was involved in the negotiations at any time during this fiasco of any contract with Jeff Williams is writing a pure political letter during his clients embattled campaign ……..this is the same attorney who represents Phil Boevers you know Hoss Cooley business partner. This is the same attorney lambasting and mocking the same citizens of Piedmont just a couple weeks ago of the citizens who protested the recent Pud application by Phil Boevers you know Hoss Cooleys friend and business partner. Vote no on Cooley, Davis and Meyer their not,worth the trouble they have put this town in now!

  8. donya says:

    Jt..maybe no one has been able to explain it to you because it jus isn’t true. Have you taken the time to call Mr. Williams yourself & ask him any questions? Also…you must not have gotten every flyer Mr. Cooley mailed out because he most certainly did reference Mr. Coffman in one of his flyers. I’m just wondering why some candidates have been able to run clean campaigns why others still seem to fall back on old habits of playing dirty politics? It really doesn’t seem to show much class….really makes one look more desperate. If we want honesty & integrity on our council….shouldn’t it all start w/ how they campaign? Just a thought!!!! How one acts when they think no one is looking reflects their true character.

    • JT says:

      Donya, I found the letter from Mr. Cooley dated March 24. He said that Charles Coffman is his opponent, that Mr. Coffman will vote for the latest incentive for Williams, and he said that his signs are painted “yellow”. I take it that you didn’t like his play on the word yellow? Some of his signs are painted yellow. That is what has everyone so worked up? A chidish insult?

  9. Sue James says:

    Let me see… Vernon’s ad in the newspaper was paid for by Darlene Mitchell, Mike Bell & Mary Bell…not from Vernon’s ward …..Charles Coffman’s ad was paid for by Bill Long…Not from Coffman’s ward…..and Gleichmann’s, Woods, and Coffman’s ad was paid for by Bill Long and Brad Waller….Not from any of their wards. Where are the financial supporters from their own wards? Oh, that’s right, this is the same group that started all the recalls and lawsuits. Interesting don’t you think?

    • Petter Dragon says:

      Darlene Mithell, did not work on any recall. However she did state she received a threatning letter from one of Hoss’s “colleague’s” for signing a recall petition.

  10. Amazed says:

    sue and you dont live here so why you care?

  11. Amazed says:

    they all live in Piedmont too!!!!

  12. donya hau says:

    JT….I’m not talking about any letter….Mr. Cooley refers to Mr. Coffman in @ least one of the flyers he sent out…misquoting him and flat out lying about him. As I stated before..maybe you haven’t received all of the mailouts Mr. Cooley has sent. I’d be happy to show you what I’ve seen if you still wish to deny that they exist. Any reference to “color” as far as signs go…doesn’t matter to me….it’s clear to everyone that Mr. Cooley, Mr. Davis & Mr. Meyer had the same person make all of their signs. No problem here…just ready for this to all be over…& for this town to start progressing instead of regressing. I wish you & everyone else all the best. Have a good day. Keep it positive…keep it truthful…keep it honest…shouldn’t be too hard…

    • JT says:

      Well quit beating around the bush, what did he say? I’ve looked through everything I’ve recieved from Mr. Cooley. All I could find was what I stated above. You know where I live according to your post on the other story. Please bring it by and show it to me. Thanks

    • Sue James says:

      @ Donya – what misquotes and lies are you talking about. I haven’t received that one either.

  13. Sue James says:

    If you look on Mr. Coffman for City Council facebook he says “I really hate to see service brought into a city council race” and then he sends out a flyer that says “Our veterans support Charles Coffman”. Kind of the same thing if you ask me. If you will notice several of the veterans listed are part of the recalls and lawsuits. It doesn’t state anywhere that Mr. Coffman is a veteran. Mr. Cooley thank you for your service to our country. I truly hope the citizens are smart enough to see the agenda Mr. Coffman has and the “group” he has his support from.

  14. donya hau says:

    JT….ask Hoss for one…I’m sure he has several extras he could share with you.

    • JT says:

      For goodness sake would someone please just post the wording of the so called “attack” on Charles Coffman in one of Hoss Cooley’s flyers? This is becoming absurd. Donya I’ve asked you several times and you won’t give a direct answer. Is it because you don’t have one? Thanks.

  15. Stacy Calvert says:

    Go vote! Ward 4……VOTE COFFMAN!!!!

  16. donya hau says:

    Ask Mr. Cooley…Im sure he has extras he would share with you. Or you could call Mr. Coffman. He’d be happy to discuss it with you & dispell any & all rumors flying around out there.

  17. Darlene says:

    JT – Better yet, check with Ben Felder at the Gazette. He is accumulating all the mailers.

  18. Sue James says:

    Just wondering…..Charles Coffman is telling the people that he has NO ties to your “group”.
    How does that make you all feel after you have work so hard on his campaign????

  19. piedmont person says:

    A boy named Sue…..’HOW DO YOU DO”

  20. Mary Nell brueggen says:

    Ben I thought you were going to post the video of the forum online. I also thought you were going to post a story on some of the political fliers that were being mailed to citizens. Several people have asked where they are. It seems that the paper dropped the ball!

    • admin says:

      Mary, we ran into some tech problems with our video and were not able to post the forum video. But the chamber also recorded the forum so you might check their website. As for any story on the political fliers we have not planned to run one. We have gathered some of them and you may see some info in Thursday’s paper. As for dropping the ball, if you gained a better understanding of the candidates through our previews (which I would believe most readers have) then I feel pretty good about our coverage thus far. Thanks, Ben

  21. JT says:

    The only people that have dropped the ball are the ones that have said Hoss attacked Coffman in one of his campaign flyers. So far they can’t even post what the flyer said. The burden of proof falls on the accuser.

    • Sue James says:

      @ JT – the reason they haven’t posted anything is because it is a lie and they know it.

  22. Mary says:

    at JT This is what I am responding to as far as dropping the ball. Ben posted this “Help us keep up with what campaign materials are being sent out in the final days before the election. Have you received a campaign flyer, good or bad? We’d love to see it as we work on addressing some of the remarks candidates are saying about each other. Snap a photo with your phone and send it to bfelder@piedmonttoday.com

    I was told he has some of the flyers. I was just wanting to see them. The same as you.

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