Nathaniel Harding seeks Ward 6 Oklahoma City Council seat

Oklahoma City – The first time this reporter visited with Ward 6 council candidate Nathaniel Harding, I was impressed the hopeful was going door-to-door more than a month before the February 12 election.

He replied, “I’ve actually been knocking doors for much longer than just the last five weeks. In fact I’ve been knocking for five months. And it has been going very well.  
“There are few things in a campaign that fuel me more than knocking doors. We all have a vision for how we’d like to see Oklahoma City move forward, and hearing the visions of others motivates me. We can do better. Honestly, it starts with working together, and that is something I hear often and is a major focus of my campaign.” 
Harding was named to the MAPS 3 Advisory Board in 2010, and has chaired the Streetcar Subcommittee. 

Responding to a question about key issues in the race for the position that incumbent Meg Salyer is vacating, Harding observed, “Education is the top issue I hear on the doorstep. We have to look at how our city can assist our public school system in Oklahoma City. Far too often, governmental bodies fail to work together or communicate. We can change that. As our city looks ahead to the next MAPS proposals, support for our local schools should be considered. 

“Mental health and substance abuse services are another need I often hear about. The overcrowding of our jails and prisons is largely a result of a lack of treatment availability. That has a cascading effect that hurts entire families and is traumatic for children.” 

As The City Sentinel has reflected in news stories and commentaries for more than a decade, the population and policy preferences of the Sooner State’s capital city’s citizens are increasingly diverse. Asked to comment on that, Harding replied, “As an admittedly white, affluent male, diversity is something that I think some people assume I’m not attentive to. We have a rich and diverse history in Oklahoma City, and I believe we have a rich and diverse future. A strong leader recognizes their weaknesses and I recognize that one of mine is privilege.
“That term makes some uncomfortable but it’s a reality. What I hear from voters is the desire for inclusiveness and respect. Those two characteristics will be at the forefront of my efforts as a member of city council.”

Harding served in the Air Force Reserves as a captain. In 2012,  he was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan at the US/NATO joint headquarters, earning the Joint Service Commendation Medal for efforts to secure safe roads for soldiers serving the U.S., United Nations and Afghan forces. He also worked, during his time abroad, with local police units and civilians. He is a small business owner who started an energy company in the City which now employs 17 people. 

As for reasons voters in Ward 6 should support him rather than opponents JoBeth Hamon and Jim Holman, Harding said, “I believe the best reason someone should support me is that I will make certain all voices are truly heard. As a society we have become pretty bad at listening and politicians are often the prime example. To start, I promise to always listen. It is amazing what you can learn, even about opposing views, when you listen.
“I am also committed to transparency. It is a key to constituents knowing their views were heard. I’d support measures that make our city government more transparent. 
“Additionally, I will continue to be active in the community. From neighborhood association meetings to keeping social media updated and submitting regular columns to outlets like The City Sentinel, I’ll do my best to inform everyone of what we are doing to move our city forward. In addition to being proactive, I will also be approachable. In fact, I welcome anyone to reach out to me at 405-582-0052 with your ideas, concerns and dreams for our city.
“Finally, I have a proven record. An effective member of city council connects people and ideas to solve complex problems. One way I have done this was last year connecting the City of OKC to the non-profit Center for Employment Opportunities, which helps people coming home from prison with a job and support.

“Now, hundreds of people in Oklahoma City can break the cycle of recidivism and poverty. Also for the last nine years I have served on the MAPS 3 Citizen Advisory Board and have learned how to steward different stakeholders and taxpayer money to deliver projects as expected, on time. And through my work with a wide range of community groups including city public schools, I have demonstrated my commitment to this city and its residents.”    
If no one in the race receives more than 50 percent in the February 12 balloting, a general election with the top two vote-getters from the primary will settle the contest on April 2.