We talked the other day about how Lawton isn't held in the highest regard to the rest of Oklahoma, so I decided to ask a bunch of locals what they liked and didn't like.

There was no shortage of opinions.

What do residents like?

For the most part, people like that it's somewhat conveniently located between OKC and Dallas. Close enough to both to go do things, but far enough away to avoid the traffic headaches.

On a similar note, people also like the fact that Lawton isn't small or large. It's right in the moderate medium in terms of size... an emphasis on getting across town in 20 minutes any time of the day.  Beyond those two closely related things, that was the extent of the positive.

What do residents hate?

It's unavoidable to talk the yin without the yang. There are always at least two sides to any topic, and Lawton locals seem to have more to say when asked "What do you hate about Lawton?"

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The roads.

Easily the absolute number one answer out of almost every mouth was concerning the roads in Lawton. For decades politicians have campaigned to fix them, but progress is slow and often sacrificed for other projects.

On the same topic, people also complained about the traffic lights in town. As one new Lawton resident put it...

I traded Dallas traffic for a million stoplights.

I thought it was an odd response, but the more I think about it, we really do have more stoplights than we probably need. While they're supposed to be in sync with each other... hit one green light, hit them all type of timing... it really depends on the time of day. I would wager that the clocks are off and only lining up perfectly a few times each day.

photo of a fresh crime scene

The crime.

For decades Lawton was infamous for violent crime. Growing up, we were told to never go to Lawton. Murders, shootings, stabbings, etc... used to happen way more often than nowadays, but the violent crime rates seem to be growing again. It's not as bad as it used to be, but that's no way to justify what is happening.

Drugs and property theft were also big talking points.


The boredom.

The people have spoken and they say they're bored. While there is plenty to do such as the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, that's not actually in Lawton.

It's really a loaded type of response. It goes back to the money problem Lawton suffers from. Low-paying jobs and low household income. Even if we had more entertainment in town the people might not be able to afford to keep them in business.

Most new businesses get a three-month perfect honeymoon start where the place is packed with a line out the door, but eventually, the people stop showing up because entertainment is expensive.

In an attempt to fix this boredom, some residents continually beg the city government to do something about it... Fix up the park, host an event, draw a little entertainment... but they all forget the one constant in municipal life. Government creates problems, they hardly ever solve them.


The local government.

Without a doubt, this had to be the most loaded response people had when talking about the things they hate about living in Lawton. Nothing was off the table.

It's local business owners gifting themselves money...


It's still the good ole boy network...


There is no transparency, just random announcements of 'Hey, we did this. Live with it.'

I'll admit it, they do the best they can, but most elected officials aren't equipped with the character traits or necessary skills it takes to run an efficient government.

That's not just Lawton either, this is true of most places.

Local government is a popularity contest for people that peaked in high school but still want to feel relevant to the social order of a community. The problem is when it's time to do the actual work, they often don't know where to start or who to trust for good advice.

One thing leads to another and soon enough you've accidentally given $350,000 to a Texas architecture firm for their input and opinion on how to improve Lawton parks instead of just asking people in the community...

The solution.

If this were the world of Harry Potter, I'm sure you could just avada kedavra your problems away, but it was Yogi Berra that said "If life was perfect, it wouldn't be." The answer to any problem is simple... be part of the solution.

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