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July 13, 2001

In 1935, the primary election for Perry municipal offices was scheduled for March 19, followed by the general election on April 2, but public apathy apparently was widespread. O. H. Hovey, who was not a candidate himself, did his best to make voters pay attention. He had been a colorful figure since his arrival here in 1906 driving a one-cylinder Oldsmobile, the first automobile seen in Perry. Mr. Hovey tried to drum up interest in the election by issuing a single sheet political flier. He called it Hovey’s Election Revival Leaflet. It was primarily a diatribe against the incumbent mayor, G.D. (Ted) Newton. It was anti-Newton but did not outwardly support any of the mayor’s opponents in the primary. Despite Mr. Hovey’s fiery litany, voters seemed to show little interest before going to the polls.

Partly because of his youthful vitality and because he was the city’s first native-born mayor, Mr. Newton was believed by some to be a cinch for reelection. His Republican opponents in the primary were H.H. Reynolds, a former mayor and an authentic area pioneer who operated an insurance and real estate agency on the north side of the square; and J.A. Wood. One of Mr. Reynolds’ unique claims to fame was the fact that he had been a participant in five of the Oklahoma land runs. Mr. Newton also was from pioneer Cherokee Strip stock and his family name was widely recognized.

Mr. Hovey poked some jabs like this in his political flier: “If the Superintent (sic) of Motive Power of the great Santa Fe railway system, a man in charge of millions of dollars worth of locomotives were to pass away, would they get some Perry dishwasher to take the place? No, they would get a man of experience. But when a superintendent of our half million dollar water and light plant is needed our ‘Experienced Boy Mayor, the Only Native Boy Mayor Born in Oklahoma and Still Running Wild’ appoints a man whose time has been spent in a drug store selling tooth paste, corn salve, merry widows and the like, and puts him on the job. Great business!” (My family operated a drug store here at the time but I do not know who Mr. Hovey was describing in this piece.)

Here’s another sample: “Practical and expert experience is what is in demand these days,” Mr. Hovey wrote. “Great industries don’t employ men simply because they ‘want the job’ and will see if they can catch on to it. Perry has a flock of that kind of ‘seekers for jobs.’ It also has candidates who have made good in the past, who are experienced, who were true to their trust. You know who. Be careful!”

Did Mr. Hovey’s political flier affect the election? There’s no way to determine that, but Mr. Newton was narrowly defeated by Mr. Reynolds in the primary, 273-261. Mr. Wood received 48 votes. Fred Kretsch, another former mayor, won the Democratic nomination with 340 votes to 283 for Marsh Woodruff and 101 for W.E. Johnston.

The general election on April 2 was almost an anti-climax, pitting two former mayors against each other. Both were well regarded but they were not dynamic campaigners. In the final tally of general election ballots, Mr. Reynolds was the winner with 887 to 618 for Mr. Kretsch. The winner carried all but one of the city’s seven precincts.

Others claiming victory in the general election were Charles V. Guthrie, city clerk; O.R. Hall, city treasurer; city council members, ward one, L.J. Mooter; ward two, J.M. Abel; ward three, H.R. Walker; and J.H. Adams, ward four; and school board members, Harry Donaldson, ward two; John Mugler, ward four; and R.J. Huston, outlying district.

Mr. Hovey inked the rollers on his printing presses for a few more years and it is hard to tell if he or his readers had more fun. At any rate, I am indebted to Virginia Eggers for bringing me a copy of the Revival Leaflet from 1935. It is in good condition, encased in a plastic holder, and a fine addition to my collection of historic memorabilia.