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New Stillwater Mayor Says Infrastructure is Priority

New Stillwater Mayor Says Infrastructure is Priority

This article first appeared in the Stillwater News Press.

By Jessica Jackson - newspress

April 12, 2009 12:04 am

Nathan Bates grew up like most Oklahoma boys.

His dad coached his childhood soccer team. As a kid he wanted to be a cop or a firefighter or a doctor. He describes his first car as a “piece of junk.”

And now he is the mayor.

“I had, I would say, a typical suburban lifestyle,” Bates said. “I had a dog growing up named Sasha ... I had two different cats and, at one point, I had a goldfish that lasted at least a couple months.”

Bates, 27, is no longer just an ordinary boy from Jenks.

Sitting at Mom’s Place enjoying his eggs, hash browns and biscuits and gravy, he is eyed by fellow diners. They glance back and forth wondering if he’s the same guy they see in the news. Others step up to congratulate him.

Bates will be sworn in as Stillwater’s newest mayor at 5 p.m. Monday.

“I’m looking forward to serving the community of Stillwater,” he said.

The Oklahoma State University health education and promotion junior said he has been spending his time between election night and Monday’s swearing-in ceremony studying up on the city, officials and how to run City Council meetings - in addition to studying for his classes.

“There’s no doubt about it, it’s kind of tough at the moment,” he said.

His father, Michael Bates, said he has confidence in his son’s ability to lead Stillwater, a town he is fond of, being an OSU graduate himself.

“I was very supportive of him doing this,” the elder Bates said. “I think he’ll do his best serving the city of Stillwater.”

Bates didn’t make it to his father’s alma mater until six years after he graduated high school. He enlisted in the Army, but soon was injured and received a medical discharge, he said. He came back to Oklahoma where he finished his associate degree. In 2004, he joined the Navy, spending time in Chicago, Hong Kong, Singapore, San Diego and elsewhere.

“An amazing place,” he said of San Diego. “It’s where I draw a lot of my desires for downtown Stillwater.”

In 2006, Bates was accepted at OSU and requested an early discharge, he said.

“I knew I always wanted to go to college, and I knew that my dad had a great time at OSU,” Bates said.

“But every experience I’ve had has led me to where I am today, so I can’t say that anything I’ve done in my life has been a bad choice or a bad circumstance.”

He said he expects to graduate in May next year and will be juggling mayoral duties and school until then, taking lunch-hour and evening classes to maximize the amount of time spent on the job.

“Obviously, I’m a non-traditional student, but I’m not going to ask for special favors,” Bates said.

Bates said he will be focusing on the needs of the city first.

“I would like to slow down the annexation process and speed up the process of repairing infrastructure here in the city,” he said. “I’m more interested in focusing on Stillwater as is and making sure our infrastructure is up to date, and hopefully that will help to attract new businesses showing that we have a vested interest in the city.”

He said bringing in new businesses, upgrading infrastructure and trying to ensure the fire department maintains responsibility for ambulance service are all things he wants to focus on.

“Stillwater has so much potential,” he said. “I would like to make this the example for other cities in Oklahoma.”

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