The best word to describe Lawton's newest Mayor, Stan Booker, is Visionary. He has the gift of seeing the big picture. Mayor Booker has a positive vision for the future of Lawton and is proactively working to achieve this goal for our great city.
Stan Booker grew up in Lawton and attended Eisenhower High School and Cameron University. He relishes the opportunity to serve the community he loves and believes he's been given a second chance to give back. Prior to 2015, Booker had lost most of his hearing and had become very frustrated and isolated as a result of being unable to communicate. In May of 2015, Stan Booker received a cochlear implant which restored his hearing, and the experience has been life changing. Booker was inspired to once again serve his community, and through his involvement with the Lawton Rotary Club, he founded the Leadership Institute. He says, "The number one thing we do through the Leadership Institute is help leaders get better, which in turn helps the community." Booker has organized four major Live2Lead events, bringing in such speakers as national leadership expert John Maxwell, former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphries, former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh, and best-selling author Dr. Rick Rigsby among others. The event has grown from 330 attendees to 1,300. Booker says, "Leadership determines everything in an organization. An organization cannot rise above the quality of its leaders."
It was through his work with the Rotary Leadership Institute that Stan Booker was inspired to run for the office of Mayor. In early 2017, former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphries spoke at a leadership event and shared how the MAPS (development of Bricktown) project was almost derailed on several occasions. As Mayor, he worked to bring together key groups such as the city, chamber, schools and businesses to keep the project going. Humphries said, "I realized that only the Mayor is in a position to bring everyone together." After the inspiring presentation, four Rotary members approached Stan Booker and asked him to run for mayor.
Regarding his role as Mayor, Booker says, "Eight months in, other than the significance of family, being Mayor is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. The days are long…most days I am working from 7:00 am to 8:30 pm, but it is so rewarding."
Booker's primary focus for the City of Lawton is efficiency. He says, "The most efficient cities utilize their resources most wisely." The City of Lawton will be conducting an unbiased Efficiency Study to evaluate various departments of the City to determine where efficiency could be improved. Booker says, "Broken Arrow is the most efficient city in our state and region. Although they have more revenue, they are spending less per capita because they are efficient."
Lawton has experienced costly infrastructure repairs. Booker explains, "In Lawton, we contend with issues that most Oklahoma cities do not. Our sewer, water lines and streets are more of a problem because of our clay soil. Currently the City must replace major sewer lines at a cost of $17 million plus $22 million dollars on water lines. The Mayor is working with the City Council to extend the current CIP to cover these major expenses. Booker plans to earmark money for maintenance of our city's infrastructure to prevent this crisis situation in the future. He says, "We need to create a city young families want to live in."
Mayor Booker is a great advocate for the Lawton Police Department, and an upgrade to their technology is important to him. He says, "Our police have been using 1980s technology, depending on a radio and radar. The police and our court system are the highest priority for a technology upgrade. IT is working to build a skeleton structure now, which is the first step." Body cameras and in-car technology will be added very soon. According to Sergeant Matt Dimmitt of the Lawton Police Department, "Mayor Booker's support of the police has significantly improved moral within our department."
An area where Mayor Booker is disappointed in Lawton's progress is funding for our schools. Although Lawton did pass the most recent bond by an overwhelming 73.68%, Booker says, "Since 1975 we have passed only four of fourteen bond issues. Elgin & Cache are at 33 mills and Lawton is at 22 mills for school funding, which means that Elgin and Cache are investing 33% more in their bonds than Lawton. We must support our youth to reduce crime and build a bright future for our city. You can't have a great city if you don't invest in your children."
An early project of Mayor Booker's has been his Litter Initiative. He explains, "When our streets are clean, we feel proud of our city and better about ourselves. When there is litter and debris, we feel bad about ourselves and our city." Just like the good work LETA has done with landscaping to add beauty to our city, keeping the city and streets clean makes a positive difference. A new street sweeper has been ordered and will be in operation soon. Booker adds, "We need to love ourselves enough to keep our city beautiful."
Mayor Booker would like to encourage citizens to attend the next Live2Lead event to be held in November, featuring former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Mayor Booker will continue his mission to develop leaders to help create a better community. He is making great strides for Lawton and our citizens.