Oklahoma City councilman resigns following embezzlement charges

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma City councilman has resigned his seat after charges of embezzlement were filed against him.

John Pettis sent a letter of resignation, effective by the end of the month, to Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt on Thursday, saying:

“It has been a great honor to serve the people of Ward 7 the past 5 years. 

During my tenure on this council, we made great progress in making Ward 7 a better place for people to live and work. 

I am grateful that I had the chance to push for the NE Renaissance TIF District. The TIF is showing the community that the city is really committed to ensuring NE OKC residents have the same opportunities as other parts of our great city. 

I would like to thank the residents of Ward 7 for believing and trusting in the belief that we can make our community the best because we are the best no matter what. 

Special thanks to my family and friends for your love and support. 

In addition, I want to thank Debi Martin, City Council Chief of Staff, for all of her hard work. 

I am gradteful for serving with an awesome city council. I wish each of you much success. 

It is with great sadness that I must submit this letter of resignations from the Oklahoma City effective May 31, 2018. I must put the needs of Ward 7 first. 

The people of Ward 7 will always be my heart. 

As I close this chapter of my life, I still believe the best is yet to come.”

The resignation comes following Pettis being charged Friday for allegedly stealing at least $165,000 from organizations under his control and using the funds for personal use. He is also accused of never filing income tax returns for his consulting business, the state having no record of Pettis ever filing an Oklahoma Tax Return.

Pettis turned himself in, was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail and pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three felony counts of embezzlement and one count of tax fraud. He was released on a signature bond.

John Pettis Jr., Oklahoma County Jail

As required by the Oklahoma City Charter, the council will now take two actions within 30 days of the resignation’s effective date:

  • Appoint, by majority vote, a qualified person to immediately fill the vacancy.
  • Call a special election to fill the vacancy for the rest of the four-year term. August 28 is the next available election date.

In its future resolution calling the August 28 primary special election in Ward 7, the council will set a three-day candidate filing period. If only one qualifying candidate files to run, that candidate is automatically elected to office.

If a candidate earns a majority of the votes in the August 28 primary, he or she wins the seat. Otherwise, the two candidates with the most votes will stand in a decisive runoff November 6.

The winner will represent Ward 7 on the council for the remainder of the term, which ends in April 2021.

Pettis was first elected to his seat in the April 2013 general election and re-elected with a majority victory in the February 2017 primary election. The resignation applies to his other positions on city boards, trusts and commissions.