Longtime Claremore CPA Bill Flanagan was sworn in as the city’s new mayor on Dec. 23, following the passing Mickey Perry. He had been serving as deputy mayor, and previously was on the city council in the 1970s under Mayor Harry Powers.
Flanagan has been in public accounting for 40 years and has owned and operated an accounting firm in Claremore for 35 years.
Now as mayor, he has decided to retire from his business in order to devote more time to his new position.
His last day at the office was Friday.
“I enjoy what I do — I love what I do — but I felt like it was just my time to leave,” Flanagan said. “Now that I have some additional responsibilities, it’s time to make room for some younger people here and they’ll do a great job.”
Along with a less stringent schedule, Flanagan is looking forward to new opportunities in retirement.
“I’ll have time to go to the gym — no more excuses for not going!” he said. “And just taking time to enjoy life, which I already did, but now being able to live it at a slower pace.”
But that “slower pace” doesn’t mean stopping altogether. Flanagan is also looking forward to new opportunities for the city.
“Mickey worked hard to establish a consensus (among the council) and it appears that everybody’s working in the best interest of the city,” he said. “As I see it, we’re trying to work together, solve problems for the citizens and move forward. That’s what we’ll continue to do.”
He said the council’s spirit of cooperation can be largely attributed to Perry.
“Our sympathy goes out to the Perry family and we are thankful for his long service to Claremore,” Flanagan said. “He helped provide the base for us as we go forward. We’re on the verge of hopefully making some changes that have been needed to get back on the growth path. That means providing stable government and a good environment for businesses and families to live.”
Growth and infrastructure improvements are key for the future of Claremore, Flanagan emphasized.
“We’re making investments within the city for major things — investing in our electric system and water system — and we have to have growth,” he said. “We’ve been pretty stagnant for the past 10 years. Growth causes some problems, but in the end it’s better. It means more sales tax which provides the revenue for better services.”
He said that to encourage growth, Claremore needs surplus housing for those moving to the city, and a pro-business attitude.
“(Businesses) are the ones investing the capital, providing the means for us to do what we do,” he said. “Without an increase in retail sales, everything is in jeopardy.”
He also knows it’s a slow process.
“It doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got to have patience, but you’ve got to be making progress,” he said. “I really think we are making overall progress.”
In addition, for the city to be successful, Flanagan believes it’s important to work with other levels of government.
‘That means the county, region and state as much as possible, because we’re all working for the taxpayers and if we can offer better goods and services to the citizens, everybody is better off.”
Besides his time on the city council, Flanagan is no stranger to public service. He served 18 years on the Claremore Park Board of Directors (including as chairman), which was instrumental in the organization and development of the Claremore Expo Center and Super Recreation Center.
Flanagan was named Claremore’s Citizen of the Year in 2004.
He is president of the board of directors of Hope Harbor Children’s Home and also serves on the Share the Spirit Foundation board. In addition, he serves on the board of trustees of the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs and received the prestigious Pillar Award in 2008.
Flanagan is an active member of Blue Starr Church of Christ. He and his wife, Lou have three children, William E. Flanagan III, Matt Truitt and Tiffany Fitzsimmons and two grandchildren, Jaxon Truitt and Romy Flanagan.