Year In Review: The most important local government stories of 2020

Though the pandemic wrought havoc on our lives in 2020, other things, unrelated to it, have happened in the meantime. 

Death of Mayor Reg Green 

Reg Green

Mayor Green passed away on January 26, 2020. Green joined the City Council in 1996 at the bequest of then-mayor Brian Bingman, and was elected Mayor in 2011. He had just agreed to start another term when he fell ill, and would have been our longest-serving mayor had he gotten the chance. Green was a beloved, loyal, and dedicated servant to the City and people of Sapulpa and is greatly missed. 

The Road to a Better Sapulpa G.O. Bond Election and updates 

In a more innocent time, before the C-words (coronavirus and COVID-19) took over our lexicon, our City faced a more traditional battle—one of passing a massive $40.2 million dollar General Obligation bond divided into six propositions: streets/bridges improvements and the Downtown Master Plan, public safety improvements, community park upgrades, Economic Development, replacement of the Booker T. Washington Recreation Center, and the completion of the Youth Sports Complex. City Attorney David Widdoes did an outstanding job educating the populace on the details of the propositions in a series of Townhall meetings, and it passed on January 14, 2020. Since then, substantial progress has been made on all of the proposed projects. 

First Coronavirus resolution from the City and Mask Mandate

The gallery practicing “social distancing” at the Special City Council meeting on March 23rd.

Citizens and business owners came out en masse on March 23 to ask the Council not to mandate masks, close businesses, or enforce stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. The Council, in a split vote, chose to put restrictions on some non-essential businesses but appeared to listen to the people who spoke against stricter regulations.  

In November, the Council, helmed by new Mayor Craig Henderson, in another split vote, decided to mandate masks in the City of Sapulpa in public spaces, despite the second wave of public comments insisting that this was a violation of their civil rights.  

Residential construction criticisms and complaints

Three developments in particular this year caused an uproar among neighbors. A new housing addition, The Reserve at Cross Timbers, has been accused of causing stormwater runoff issues for the neighborhood issues to its south, The Lakes at Cross Timbers. This was addressed multiple times this year at various City meetings and is expected to be resolved. 

Housing addition plans for the 81st and Frankoma area were stalled this summer when developers pulled out after neighbors complained at city meetings that the plat was overloaded with duplexes and it would negatively affect their property values. The land was sold to a new developer with a new plan, but neighbors are still concerned. This is an ongoing issue.   

A new high-end townhome development near 33rd West Avenue and West 81st Street had vociferous complaints via neighbors to its north, who alleged that the multi-residential plat would ruin their “country-living” feel and spawn traffic problems. It passed the Planning Commission and City Council nonetheless, and is in development now.

Restructure of City Council, retirement of longest-running City Councilor John Anderson, the election of Craig Henderson and Carla Gunn as new Mayor and Vice Mayor, respectively 

Upon the death of Reg Green, Vice Mayor Lou Martin, Jr. became Mayor Pro Tem. On July 6, City Councilor Craig Henderson was elected Sapulpa’s new Mayor and Councilor Carla Gunn was elected the City’s Vice Mayor. (It should be noted that Gunn is our first black female Vice Mayor.)  

Left, Vice-Mayor Carla Gunn; Right, Mayor Craig Henderson.

Vickie Beyer replaced Reg Green for the Seat 1, Ward 4 City Councilor position in February. Joseph Hale won the Ward 1, Seat 2 City Councilor position when Wes Galloway chose not to run for another term. And Ward 2 Councilor Carla Gunn appointed Brian Stephens to replace the longest-running Councilor Sapulpa has ever had, John Anderson, when he retired. 

This makes for city leadership that is full of fresh ideas and abundant energy to make Sapulpa an even greater place to live. 

Food Truck Park Being Developed on South Main

No story received more positive feedback this year than the news in August that a local business, D*Luxe Properties, is putting in a Food Truck Park on the East side of South Main Street, at the former location of Scott’s Tastee Burger. It’s in the development stage now and the first phase is expected to be finished in the first of the new year.

E. B. Thompson

E. B. Thompson

Elizabeth Thompson is the News Editor for Sapulpa Times.