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Amid fight with OKC over COVID curfews, defense attorney Frank Urbanic announces mayoral bid

The Oklahoman logo The Oklahoman 9/21/2021 Josh Dulaney, Oklahoman
a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Attorney Frank Urbanic files a letter at the state Capitol in early December protesting curfews for bars and restaurants. © Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman Attorney Frank Urbanic files a letter at the state Capitol in early December protesting curfews for bars and restaurants.

A criminal defense attorney who sued Mayor David Holt and Gov. Kevin Stitt over lockdown-era bar curfews announced Monday he intends to run for mayor of Oklahoma City. 

Frank Urbanic, a 40-year-old Republican, told The Oklahoman he will be a pro-business and pro-worker candidate in favor of property rights and limited government. 

“Elect me and I’m not going to shut your business down,” Urbanic said.

In late 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic surged, Urbanic filed lawsuits on behalf of bar and restaurant owners challenging Stitt’s executive order restricting the sale of food and beverages after 11 p.m. 

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Urbanic also filed a court challenge against Holt’s proclamation to temporarily prohibit the sale of food and beverages after 11 p.m. 

A district court judge in May found the case involving Stitt moot and dismissed it after the governor announced the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency in Oklahoma. Urbanic has appealed the decision. 

The case involving Holt and the city of Oklahoma City is winding its way through court. 

Urbanic questions the legal authority for local governments and the state of Oklahoma to shut down businesses during states of emergency. 

“My record of fighting against unlawful government mandates speaks for itself,” Urbanic said. 

Urbanic earned his law degree at Texas Tech University, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma. 

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A U.S. Air Force veteran and current major in the Air Force Reserve with the 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron at Tinker AFB, Urbanic has also served as a GOP precinct chair and district chair and as a member of the Oklahoma County GOP’s executive committee.

Urbanic criticized what he considers wasteful spending measures in the city, specifically the downtown streetcar project. 

Operating costs for the streetcar are expected to be more than $4 million annually, even as ridership has plummeted since a high mark of 401,610 riders in 2019.  Since the pandemic began in March 2020, ridership stayed below 15,000 a month into this summer. 

“I want to see how money can be better spent for Oklahoma City residents,” Urbanic said. 

He said as a criminal defense attorney he will seek to increase criminal justice reform efforts in Oklahoma City. 

In Holt, Urbanic faces a mayor with a large war chest and the backing of several prominent Oklahomans. 

According to most recent filings, Holt raised more than $545,000 for his re-election campaign, topping his 2018 campaign total and second only to Mick Cornett's $780,000 in 2014.

Notable donors include Clay Bennett of the Thunder ownership group; former OU football coach Barry Switzer; and former gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson. 

Holt declined to comment for this story.

Another potential mayoral candidate is Jimmy Lawson, an activist and professor who announced in June his intention to run. 

The filing period is in early December. The primary is scheduled for Feb. 8. 

Jason Padgett, an OKC native and former Hollywood actor turned businessman, planned to run, but KOKH-25  reported Monday he wouldn’t pursue the office this election. 

Padgett did not return requests seeking comment. 

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Amid fight with OKC over COVID curfews, defense attorney Frank Urbanic announces mayoral bid

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