Pettis sought NE OKC improvements

John Pettis

Special to the Chronicle

We greatly regretted the resignation of City Councilman John A. Pettis Jr. (Ward 7) following charges of embezzlement and state income tax fraud that hit him on Friday.

That sense of abject regret comes because Councilman Pettis did more for economic development in his ward than any other councilman who served before him. Of course, Councilman Pettis should be given the presumption of innocence until he has gone through the justice system. He has said he will plead not guilty to the charges and we wish him the best as we join with others in expressing our regrets.

This is, indeed, a sad day for Ward 7, especially since there had been such hopefulness for him to succeed.

A young man, Councilman Pettis, indeed, earned that sense of hopefulness.

He began his campaign for the office railing like a lion as he roared against what he called the lack of integrity of the man he would defeat with nearly 70 percent of the vote in a primary election. After coming from behind in that primary, Mr. Pettis (with the support of labor unions—including the city’s police union that hailed him as someone who would fight the level of crime that was stifling Ward 7) would go on to defeat the incumbent councilman with 80 percent of the vote!

Councilman Pettis took on his duties with that same boisterous bellowing like a lion that had characterized his campaign by immediately thrusting himself into the battle for the economic development of his ward as no one else had done.

The councilman seemed to be driven with the conviction that, without economic development….without jobs….a ward….any ward….would eventually die. That is a conviction shared by us and by many others.

Initially, it might be said that he was slightly overripe in his approach, but that might have been accurately attributed to his youth, but we watched as he matured in the job.

With that, he became the ultimate champion for the good of his predominantly Black constituency, pushing gallantly for the long rundown renovation of the Northeast Shopping Center and for other initiatives for the redevelopment of the NE 23rd Street Business Corridor. He joined forces with the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority in his seemingly unending efforts to build new housing, etc., for Ward 7. He held town hall meetings to inform residents of Ward 7 and the city’s plans to advance his community.

So that, when he ran for reelection, he had something of a cake-walk and won a second term. In October, once Oklahoma County Commissioner Willa Johnson (Dem., District 1) announced her retirement and plans not to seek reelection, he immediately announced his plans to run for her position. Commissioner Johnson, who preceded Councilman Pettis’ opponent in the Ward 7 office, endorsed Councilman Pettis’ candidacy to succeed her.

Then, he was hit with Friday’s charges.

It’s a sad day for Ward 7.

City Councilman John A. Pettis Jr...For mor editorials, subscribe to the blackchronicle newspaper