Broken Arrow Express
The original form of government for Broken Arrow was mayor-council, though the original councilmen were called Aldermen instead of Council Members. Though the form of government did not change substantially, the name of the office of Alderman was changed to Trustee and the Mayor was renamed as President of the Board of Trustees in May 1908. This convention continued until January 1921, when the names were again changed. The President of the Board of Trustees became Mayor again, and the Trustees became councilmen.
In the 1940s, many members of the community felt that the mayor-council form of government should be changed to provide for a city manager. The proposal for this change was first presented to the voters in 1947 and was rejected. It was rejected again in 1951. Promoters of the change continued their efforts, however, and were successful in passing the change in April 1954.
Most residents would agree that Broken Arrow has had a number of many great mayors, starting in 1903 with J.B. Parkinson, who served one year. Others serving one year terms in the city’s Indian Territory start-up days before Oklahoma became a state, include H.L. Pierce, 1904-05; C.L. Dalton 1905-06 and W.F. Taylor, 1906-07.
The Mayor’s Gallery was unveiled at City Hall on July 16. It holds 24 photographs of past mayors. The photographs begin with William W. Walton, who served as mayor from April 1907 to May 1908.
Below is information on additional mayors who are not yet included in the gallery. However, they may be added when their photographs become available:
Phenie Lou Ownby, who served 1931-33, is the only woman to serve as Broken Arrow’s mayor. She was the first woman mayor in Oklahoma and the sixth woman in the nation to serve as mayor. She was elected 11 years after the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, providing the right for women to vote.
James C. Reynolds, with 13 years in the mayor’s position, had the longest tenure in that office. The next longest tenure is held by Mayor Nick Hood with 10 years in that position, and Dr. James Newcomb, with 8 years in the office.
Alvin Eskridge and Robert Eskridge are the only father and son who both served as mayors. Alvin served twice, 1949-1951 and again in 1952-1955. His son Robert, served 1958-1964.
Besides Eskridge , two other men were to serve two different times: W.W. Walton was mayor in 1907-1908 and again in 1911. M.C. Williams served 1911-1913 and again in 1921-1923.