Stillwater voters will cast ballots Tuesday regarding a city council election and a proposed sales tax extension, Resolution No. 2019-33.
The city council election is only open to residents of Stillwater who are registered to vote. The ballot for the sales tax extension is open to all of the registered voters of Payne County.
Resolution No. 2019-33 would extend an existing one quarter of 1% sales tax, and designate funds from said tax for the purposes of road and bridge maintenance and construction.
Councilor John Wedlake, who is up for re-election, said the sales tax extension is necessary to maintain Stillwater’s roads at their current condition.
“Without much debate, the streets and the sidewalks in Stillwater need some care,” Wedlake said.
Wedlake and his opponent, OSU student Slade Mielitz, identified transportation infrastructure as one of Stillwater’s biggest issues.
Mielitz described himself as a “common man” and said he thinks government needs more regular citizens. He is a history major and army veteran, and he is attending OSU using GI bill funds.
“I don’t have some exorbitant degree. I don’t have like a doctorate or anything. You know, I’m not a millionaire,” Mielitz said.
Mielitz said a lack of both sidewalks and flood infrastructure are problems for the city’s transportation infrastructure, and he pointed to last year’s flooding as evidence.
“I think a city this size should not have flooding like that, shouldn’t have major roads closed down for weeks on end,” Mielitz said.
He also said the city of Stillwater should be doing more to attract new and different businesses to town.
“I’ve lived here for about 18 months now,” Mielitz said. “I think Stillwater is lacking for retail and dining options.”
Both candidates also stated a desire to focus on retention of OSU graduates.
Wedlake has been a city council member since 2017. He is a neurologist, army veteran, co-owner of Stillwater Neurology LLC and a member of the Stillwater Medical Foundation.
He said the city council has been simultaneously focusing on student retention while also trying to attract outside talent to Stillwater.
“We’ve got a great pool of bright young minds here in Stillwater, but historically, those bright young minds have graduated and gone to other places,” Wedlake said.
Wedlake said he’s proud to have been involved in passing the Stillwater Reinvestment Plan, which is a campus corridor revitalization plan with a projected budget of $32.5 million. He also said he’s proud of his stance against medical marijuana dispensaries in town. He is the only councilor to have voted against every dispensary’s special use permit.
“That has nothing to do with any moral or ethical hangups I have about marijuana, I really don’t have all that many, but it has everything to do with my expertise as a physician,” Wedlake said.
Having left town only twice to attend medical school and serve in the military, Wedlake said Stillwater holds a special place in his heart.
“I’m really just a guy that is trying to do the best I can for the city that I love,” Wedlake said. “I would urge people to look at my voting record, look at some of the things that I’ve stood for, look at some of the things I’ve voted against, and that basically is my platform.”