Candidates answer questions at forum

KEVIN HARVISON | Staff photoBilly Jack Boatright, left, and Brian Smith discuss why they hope to be elected to the city of McAlester Ward 5 council seat during Thursday’s election forum produced by the McAlester News-Capital.

Billy Jack Boatright won a runoff for the McAlester City Council Ward 5 seat.

Boatright finished with 337 votes to beat challenger Brian Smith with 305 votes in the June 30 runoff election. The McAlester City Council Ward 5 seat was to be left vacant after current councilor Maureen Harrison did not file for reelection.

"I just appreciate the voters getting out and voting for me," Boatright said. "With having 40 years experience working for the city and I think people finally realized they're ready for a change and that's what I represnt is a change."

Boatright said his top priorities after he is sworn in at the next city council meeting will be infrastructure and roads.

He said it's difficult to say if either would take priority over the other, but he believes in improving the city in those areas.

"We have so much sewer problems and water problems, I just feel like we need to dedicate what money we have available towards the projects that are needed instead of throwing it out there for something that may be not necessary for this ward," Boatright said.

Boatright talked during the McAlester News-Capital’s election forum about unity — saying a recent peaceful march organized by Rev. Anthony Washington helped promote unity amid racial tension seen nationwide.

He has said he wants to improve the sewer treatment plant, upgrade city streets, and listen to constituents.

Boatright has said McAlester needs to diversify and develop its economy with manufacturing companies and higher paying jobs at the industrial park.

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