Claremore city councilors Monday approved a measure to provide office space at city hall to Congressman Markwayne Mullin as city officials moved to increase public access.
The agreement came by a 6 to 3 vote with Councilors Brandon Smith, Thomas Cypert and Don Purkey voting against the measure.
The city ordinance was presented days after the congressman was provided office space as city officials worked to finalize the details to make the arrangement more permanent.
Mullin will be leasing the office space in the front office of city hall for a fee of $10 per month. Additionally, Mullin will be responsible for telephone and internet service for the office.
“I am thrilled to be opening an official Congressional office in Claremore. Together with our offices in McAlester, Muskogee, Durant and Washington DC, the Claremore office will provide the best possible service to the people of the 2nd District. We look forward to a great relationship with the residents of Rogers County and are truly looking forward to the opportunity to help eastern Oklahoma,” Mullin said.
The move is a joint effort by Mullin and city officials to save taxpayer funds and comes after the House of Representatives introduced budget cuts this year, according to City Manager Jim Thomas.
Thomas also outlined the benefit to the city during the meeting.
“I see a lot of value and I see it as a partnership,” Thomas said. “I think it will allow us to bridge some gaps.”
Access to the congressman will provide an opportunity to get federal dollars for Claremore, Thomas added.
‘The city is going to need some federal help to realize the vision I have for Claremore,” Thomas said.
Thomas continued calling the agreement a “win/win” for Claremore.
Additionally, Thomas commented on Mullin’s appointment to the transportation committee and how it could help Claremore secure federal funding.
Mayor Mickey Perry echoed the excitement from Thomas.
“It sounded like it would be nice to have access to one of our federal officials,” Perry said.
Not everyone agreed as Purkey called the effort “partisan”.
“They are going to see this as a representation of the city,” Purkey said. “To me we are opening a door. We are introducing partisan politics.”
City officials made it clear that the office space would serve the people and would not be used as a political office.
Smith raised other objections including the fee of only $10 per month. He explained that the issue includes the city’s expense to build other office space at the new senior citizen center due to a need by city employees.
“I am not comfortable with this plan as written,” Smith said.
After the meeting, more questions arose as the council found the space was occupied by Mullin prior to the approval of the council.
The city charter gives the city the authority to enter into the agreement with Mullin or any other governmental agency. Bringing the issue before the council was simply a formality.