By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Residents are encouraged to register now to vote in the upcoming Norman City Council election and the Public Safety Sales Tax renewal April 1. Anyone who is not already registered or who needs to make changes to registration before the election must do so no later than Friday.
Fifty precincts will vote April 1, according to Cleveland County Election Board officials. Voters in some precincts will decide a Canadian Valley Technology Center Special Election.
City candidates for even-numbered city wards are up for election in Norman. While Ward 8 incumbent Chad Williams did not draw an opponent, there are challengers in every other race.
Ward 2 is an open seat. Current Council member Tom Kovach is stepping down at the end of his term. Running for Ward 2 are Gary Caissie, Aleisha Karjala, Matthew Leal and Clint Williams.
In Ward 4, incumbent Gregory Jungman is being challenged by Bill Hickman and Rhett Michael Jones. In Ward 6 incumbent, Jim Griffith will take on challenger Jerry Lang.
Three candidate forums are scheduled to allow the voting public to get acquainted with candidates and their opinions on various issues. All of the forums are free and open to the public.
Up first is the Norman Chamber of Commerce forum at 6 p.m. March 10 in the board room of the Norman Chamber of Commerce, 115 E. Gray St. The Chamber will survey candidates on business issues affecting Norman.
On March 24, the League of Women Voters of Norman will host a forum from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the city council chambers, 201 W. Gray St. All of the candidates are expected to attend. They will answer questions from the league and from those in attendance during the forum.
The league is nonpartisan and does not support or oppose candidates for public office.
A new group, Citizens for Financially Responsible Government, is hosting a forum at 6:30 p.m. March 27. The emphasis will be questions about the city’s budget, finances the council considers during a two-year term, bonding and taxing decisions and opinions about budget priorities.
Some questions will be taken from the audience regarding those issues. The format will be in line with previous debates concerning opportunities to speak and rebuttals from the participants. The moderator for the forum will be Tim Lashar of Lasher Comfort Systems.
PSST vote on April 1 ballot: A ballot initiative on Norman’s Public Safety Sales Tax is also a big issue. If voters approve the measure, the PSST will be continued as a permanent tax, supporting 71 police and fire positions created by the first tax in 2008. The 2008 tax was set up to be temporary.
In addition to adding new personnel above and beyond positions supported in the city’s general fund, the PSST paid for two new fire stations — Fire Station 8 and Fire Station 9. Money from the tax also was used for other vital police and fire equipment.
If approved, the revenue from PSST II will pay for additional public safety personnel, an emergency operation and dispatch facility, a state-of-the-art emergency communications system and fire department emergency vehicles.
Register to vote by Friday: To register to vote or to change registration information, residents must fill out an Oklahoma Voter Registration Application form.
If mailed, the application should be postmarked no later than midnight Friday. Completed Oklahoma Voter Registration Applications also can be dropped off at the Cleveland County Election Board, 641 E. Robinson St., until 5 p.m. Friday.
Registration applications are available at the Cleveland County Election Board and at tag agencies, post offices and public libraries or online at elections.state.
ok.us or clevelandcountyelectionboard.com.
Eligible voters who would like to request a mail absentee ballot for the 2014 City of Norman Municipal Election should apply now. The deadline is 5 p.m. March 26. Absentee ballot application forms are available at the County Election Board or can be downloaded and printed at clevelandcountyelectionboard.com.
Absentee ballot application forms may be mailed or faxed to the Cleveland County Election Board at 366-0209. Voters also may apply in person at the Election Board Office.
Once an absentee application is received at the Cleveland County Election Board Office, a ballot will be mailed to the voter, who must then return the voted ballot by mail.
Absentee ballots must be in the hands of the county election board by 7 p.m. on election day to be counted.
For more information, call 366-0210.
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