Purcell voters will mark their preferences in a 3-way race for the District 1 seat on the city council.

The primary election will be Tuesday and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition the McClain County Election Board in the courthouse will be open for in-person absentee voting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today (Thursday) and Friday.

Candidates are incumbent Graham Fishburn and challengers Bill Boyle and Aaron D. Perkins.

If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, he will be declared the winner. However, if no candidate has that majority, the two top vote getters will appear on the ballot for the city’s general election on April 7.

The Purcell Register asked six questions of the three candidates. Perkins didn’t respond. The following are answers provided by Boyle and Fishburn:

Q: Why do you want to be on the Purcell City Council?

BOYLE – I retired from a career in public service; eight years in law enforcement, 25 years in the fire service, and ten years on City Council.  I am running for City Council because I want to continue to serve my community. My motto while serving as a public sector employee and as an elected official has always been “Customer Service.” The citizens are my customers and I will strive to make sure their questions are answered, help solve city issues, and make myself available to the public. To be an effective Councilor one must be responsive to the citizens.

FISHBURN – Purcell has always been my home, and I love this community. I believe very strongly in service to God and Country. It’s my way of giving back to the community that helped make me who I am today. Through teamwork and open dialogue, I want to continue to help solve our sometimes difficult and complex problems. My military experience, my law school education and deep roots in the community provide me strong qualifications to serve effectively. This is why I serve. .

Q: List in order your top three priorities/goals for the City of Purcell.

BOYLE – 1. The City Council, city manager and department heads need to make sure that questions and concerns of the citizens are adequately addressed and answered in a timely manner.  

2. Purcell needs to cut waste, i.e., why did the city increase a department’s budget an additional $2,500 to maintain flower beds when it could be better used to fill potholes.

3. Project Oversight. McCurdy Park basketball courts do not have ADA access. The Green Avenue project sidewalk by Carl’s Jr. no ADA access going south. The project also has large numbers of missing grass plants.

FISHBURN – a. Hospital: Completion and successful transition of Purcell Municipal Hospital.

b. Infrastructure: fix roads, city yard and I-35 on and off ramps.

c. Parks: Development of City Lake and McCurdy Parks.

Q: What is Purcell’s most pressing infrastructure need?

BOYLE – There have been three major water line breaks on the west side in the past year that cut off water to many residences and seven minor water line breaks on the west side. A City employee told me that the fire hydrant by my house was removed due to concerns that it could collapse if used. Many hydrants are so low in the ground that the caps would have to be dug out for the firemen to use them, others hidden by tall grass. City personnel have not responded to my multiple requests for water line information.

FISHBURN – Our roads and bridges. Some of our roads are crumbling and need repair. The city manager is working on a plan to repair our city streets, both short term and long term plans. We also need to preserve our historic brick streets and improve Main Street. A new on and off ramp from I-35 will be a game changer for our community. We also need to improve traffic flow around the new junior high and high school and improve pedestrian access.

Q: Should boating be allowed at Purcell Lake?

BOYLE – Purcell currently allows no wake boating. The Park Board recently had a Facebook poll to see if citizens want to allow kayaks/paddleboats. An individual has suggested they were interested in having a rental business for these boats. I am for expanding boating on Lake Purcell if we have the ability to perform water rescue (by police, fire, or city staff). Purcell currently does not have the equipment or trained personnel to perform water rescues. If funds allow, I would be supportive of getting a boat, equipment and employee training to implement a water rescue team.

FISHBURN – Yes, boating should be allowed, but it should be limited because of the lake’s relatively small size. However, I am willing to listen to people who have new ideas and make proposals to make our lake more accessible and better for everyone. I would like to see more small boat sailing, paddleboards and kayaking. Our lake is beautiful and we need to protect it and preserve it.

Q: Does Purcell need a municipal swimming pool and new public library?

BOYLE – I would like to see a pool in Purcell, although I believe it would have to be a smaller project than the last one proposed to the voters. If our library was just a library, then the current space should be adequate. They offer many other programs - Tai Chi, story time, genealogy, resumes, computers, small business aid, online high school diplomas, job skills, interview prep and job applications. The city should determine if our leased space could be expanded in the existing building or other locations. The City also recently remodeled the bathrooms at the current location.

FISHBURN – I believe Purcell needs a swimming pool. I helped in the project to replace our pool. However, what began as a replacement pool evolved into a large water park too expensive and too difficult to manage and thus rejected by the voters. A new pool cannot be funded with additional tax increases; our sales taxes are too high. When a reasonable plan comes forward, I will support it. The public library is a less pressing need. Our current facility is adequate. However, I foresee in the future the public library in a separate building, either new construction or possibly a restored historic building.

Q: The City has largely left economic development to the Heart of Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. Is this something the City needs to take back? Why or why not?

BOYLE – I believe that economic development should remain with the Heart of Oklahoma Chamber and its dedicated staff. Although Lexington has recently established their own chamber of commerce, they are continuing with the Heart of Oklahoma Chamber. While Purcell pays the most of the current members and has significant influence, there are other member cities and businesses involved. Having Purcell take back control could lead to businesses that currently contribute to stop doing so, and could impact involvement in Purcell festivals. The city taking it over would be a disservice to the community.  

FISHBURN – The city does not need to take this back. However, the city needs to maintain a strong partnership with the chamber. I think the chamber does a great job. I have always encouraged the chamber president to inform the City Council how our decisions affect economic development. We are blessed with a strong business district.We need to strengthen it and plan for the future. We’ve had recent success in this area when we added the new turn lane for Wendy’s and Ace Hardware.

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