By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Bob Capone has become a familiar face in the community, whether that be standing behind the counter at Capone’s Hoagies with his wife, Faith, or hours volunteering with Newkirk Main Street (NMS). He has a deep passion for small towns like Newkirk, and now he sees a chance to help move the community forward as he seeks to serve on the city commission to help make important decision to transform the town.
Capone is vying for the position of Commissioner Two, which is being vacated by Jack Bagg, who is retiring from the commission. Also running is Austin Gregory. The election will be held April 5 for all Newkirk voters.
The Capone’s have only lived in Kay County since 2018, but the little community has made a big impression on them.
“I think Newkirk needs to get back to its glory days, and I think this is a good place to start,” he said of his desire to run.
Capone grew up in a small town himself, in Ballston Spa, N.Y., north of Albany. The couple were living in Pennsylvania when they relocated to Oklahoma to be close to daughter Alyssa and husband, Geary McCleery, finally settling in Newkirk in 2019.
“This is a small town, and that is what attracted us to Newkirk,” he said.
The Capone’s jumped into NMS fairly quickly, but the couple’s community spirit stretches outside NMS and they continue to support Newkirk through Capone’s Hoagies, which opened March 17, 2020. The restaurant has paid back into the community.
“Not only do we help as far as NMS, but we also sponsor every high school team, church events,” he said. “We spearheaded the pay-it-forward board to help people that are less fortunate.”
Being active across the community, he soon saw how Newkirk can be improved, which is part of his campaign platform.
“Newkirk has a lot of potential; it just seems that some of the former administrators were afraid to make any changes,” he said. “In order for Newkirk to prosper and grow, we need to make changes.”
One of those changes is inspecting Downtown buildings and bringing them up to code, which could potentially help bring new businesses to town, as well as tax dollars.
“You have old buildings in town, residential structures, that have fallen through, and while the property tax is being paid, you miss out on a new business that comes in, generating sales tax, or a new family coming in and spending money,” he said. “For us to be viable, we need to make as much use of all the space we have.”
Capone is also supporting the proposed 1 percent sales tax issue to generate needed funds, which will help supplement taxes generated from utilities.
“A lot of people are concerned with the utilities. Our electric rate is one of the lowest of our area,” he said. “We were selling our electricity to (SouthWind) Casino, and with them shutting down, that supplemental tax is gone.”
Code enforcement and stronger tax dollars could work together to bring in new businesses to Newkirk.
“We need to focus on bringing new businesses to Newkirk,” he said, “we need mom-and-Pop shops to come to generate revenue.”
With Capone’s efforts in the community, he is seeking the community’s votes to help make Newkirk a better place to live, work and shop.
“You have people who lived here their whole lives, and you have those of us that relocated here. They have fresh, new ideas and views, and that is what I have, a fresh set of eyes and new ideas,” he said. Pantone can come in (to Capone’s Hoagies) and voice a concern. We’re open to anyone that wants to come and talk to us if they have a concern.”