When Gene Brown was elected Duncan’s new mayor four months ago, John Herdt wasn’t even considering replacing him as Ward 4’s city councilman.

But after being approached by several community members he decided to throw his hat in the ring. Tuesday night, he was appointed to fill the remainder of Brown’s term by a unanimous vote of the council.

Herdt, who was not at the meeting due to a prior work commitment, said he was excited when he heard the news.

“I’m really looking forward to serving,” said Herdt.

“Duncan’s given a lot to me; now it’s time for me to give something back.”

Herdt is a 23-year resident of Duncan who has lived 22 of those years in Ward 4.

He’s been the executive director of Youth Services of Stephens County since 1983. During that time, the organization has grown from seven employees to 49 while its annual budget increased from $160,000 to $1.3 million.

Funded by federal and state dollars, youth services acts in the capacity of a sub-contractor with the city to provide emergency shelter, counseling, and intervention service for youths in trouble or need.

Due to the agency’s reliance on tax dollars for funding, Herdt said he sought a legal opinion from the city manager and city attorney Jim Frieda before submitting his application for the council; just to make sure there was no conflict of interest.

Neither saw a problem, but Frieda was cautious and sought another legal opinion before giving his OK last week.

Herdt was one of five residents who volunteered to fill the remaining year of Brown’s term, and Brown thanked them all.

“I was excited that there was so much interest shown,” stated Brown. “I would encourage any of you who continue to be interested in sitting on the council to file to run for the seat in the next election.”

The filing period for the next election is in December, said Brown.

Herdt will serve on the council until next May, unless he runs and successfully wins reelection.

Although he’s had no previous government experience, Herdt said that early in his career he worked for district court for two years and then as superintendent for a correctional facility in Oklahoma City for another six years.

He said he’s become acquainted with a lot of Duncan’s community leaders through his job and through his community service with groups like the Kiwanis.

A graduate of Ardmore High School, Herdt said he recently turned down a job offer which would have allowed him to return because he wanted to stay in Duncan.

“I think Duncan is one of the best cities in Oklahoma,” he explained. “Duncan is a thriving community. I am proud of the facilities we can offer for a city of this size.

“I’ve seen Duncan grow a lot over the years,” noted Herdt. “And I’d like to be of service to the community and the people of Duncan.”

Herdt and his wife, Barbara, have been married for 39 years. Barbara is the owner of the New Image Hair Salon; a business she’s operated for 11 years. The couple’s daughter, Vicky, is also a resident of Duncan.

He said he will miss the next regular meeting of council because he will be in Dallas, attending a board meeting for a youth agency that serves a six-state area. The meeting was scheduled two months ago.

For that reason, he expects to be sworn in during the council’s next regular meeting on June 27.

Herdt said he is just starting to pore through six large manuals he received after his appointment to the council; information he may need during his time on the board. Whether or not he gets through them before the swearing in, he said his time on the council will be guided by a perspective he’s developed over the course of his life.

“I’ve learned that you have to look at an issue in terms of its betterment for all the people; not just the few,” he said.

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