EDMOND, Okla. - An already unusual election has taken an unexpected turn, now that a group has taken to social media encouraging voters to elect a deceased candidate.
Mayor Charles Lamb died suddenly just days after he filed to run for his fourth term, but according to the Oklahoma County Election Board, it was too late to change the ballot.
"Once the filing period ends, in this case it was from December 3rd through December 5th, once they verify the names that have filed, that’s the final ballot," said Edmond spokesperson Casey Moore. "No more names can be added, no one can be removed from that ballot."
The candidates are former mayor Dan O'Neil, Richard Prawdzienski, and Charles Lamb. The two top vote-getters in the February 12 primary will move on to the April 2 general election.
If Charles Lamb is elected, it will be left up to city council to fill that position and appoint the next mayor.
Now a Facebook group, called VoteForCharles, is encouraging Edmond voters to do just that. The woman behind the move is Edmond business owner Michelle Schaefer.
"If we elect Mayor Lamb, then the city council can appoint somebody who shares his vision," Schaefer said.
In fact, she has someone in mind.
"Our current city councilman, Nick Massey. I would hope they would appoint him."
Massey's not shy about the fact that he wants the position.
"There are a lot of people, including myself, who probably would have filed for to run for mayor," Massey said, "but out of respect for Charles, we certainly weren't going to file. Some people feel that the election might have gone completely different if people could have filed."
The council would be allowed to appoint anyone to the seat, but Massey said it would likely be a member of the council.
That's something Prawdzienski takes issue with.
"They have the power right now, they like the power, they want to continue that power," he said. "They have their friendships and their network, and they want to keep their power."
O'Neil says he admired Lamb, but that electing him would be an embarrassment to the community.
"The Charles Lamb I knew would never endorse a candidacy like is being proposed by the people on Facebook," O'Neil said. He went on to say that an appointed mayor wouldn't fairly represent the city. "I just think that it’s most important that we have representation, that the city council members stand for an election, that the people have an opportunity to listen to what they have to say and their goals, and vote on them. That’s what we are, we’re a democracy."
But Schaefer argued this is democracy in action.
"There`s no provision to remove him from the ballot, so as a voter, I have that right, and that option to elect him," Schaefer said, "and trust our city council will appoint somebody to carry on his legacy."