NORMAN — With the Norman city election less than two weeks away, the mayor’s race is taking center stage while ward races remain relatively calm.
The heat turned up in the mayoral campaign earlier this month when a mailer by challenger Tom Sherman made claims against incumbent Cindy Rosenthal saying she wanted to sell water to Goldsby, she rejected the Warren Theatre and that she is responsible for the poor state of roads in east Norman.
Research proved that at least two of those claims were false. Owner Bill Warren called The Transcript to verify that he never spoke with Rosenthal or other city officials from Norman about locating here.
If that weren’t colorful enough, David Kempf, also a mayoral candidate, showed up Monday at the Public Safety Candidate Forum with a baseball bat, which was not allowed on the dais, according to observers.
Now, supporters of Mayor Rosenthal are incensed over what they allege is a continued misrepresentation of facts by Sherman.
Sherman’s latest mailer, delivered this week, insinuates that Rosenthal is responsible for the loss of businesses that left Norman and took “tax dollars with them.”
While business may close or relocate for a number of reasons, The Transcript tracked down the reasons behind some of the relocations listed on the mailer. None of them appear to be related to the mayor.
A couple of the business owners expressed that they are upset about being named in a mailer for political purposes.
Sherman vows that his future campaign materials will be positive and will focus on his issues.
“They were just examples to bring attention. I really want to be able to retain locally owned businesses. If we can do something to help keep them here, we should at least try,” Sherman said. “Native Roots was going to go anyway. The question is, is anyone at city hall keeping up with who is going to leave? My issue is trying to retain as many of our local businesses as possible.”
Native Roots owners Sara Ann Kaplan and Matt Runkle were upset at being used in a political campaign.
“It was brought to our attention that our business name was listed on a recent campaign flyer for Norman’s upcoming election. The mailer made some very bold and untrue implications, and its message was in no way endorsed or approved by the owners of Native Roots Market,” Kaplan and Runkle wrote in a letter addressed to Norman residents. “Our relocation from Norman had absolutely nothing to do with Mayor Rosenthal.
“Additionally, the tax dollars generated by our store will be easily replaced with the addition of Natural Grocers, Sprouts Farmers Market, Crest Foods and the other grocery stores that are coming to Norman.”
The Native Roots site will not be vacant for long. A restaurant, Scratch, will soon open at the location in the historical Magnolia building on Main Street in downtown Norman.
Another restaurant listed on the mailer is La Luna Cafe (actually La Luna Cantina & Grill), which moved to Newcastle. Chimy’s Cerveceria quickly moved into the spot at 529 Buchanan Ave. on Campus Corner. Co-owner Kyle Wright said the college market suits the expanding Chimy’s chain.
Lewis Jewelers, another business listed in the mailer, is owned by Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis.
“It didn’t really have anything to do with her (Mayor Rosenthal),” Lewis said. “I happen to be the mayor of Moore and wanted to build a business in my hometown. We built on a freestanding lot about a mile from my home.”
Lewis has been mayor in Moore for 20 years as of May 3.
“Some of the best mayors that I have learned from have been mayors in Norman,” Lewis said.
Lewis said Moore and Norman are part of a regional community and should continue to work together toward prosperity for Cleveland County.
“If I don’t get a business in Moore, I still want it to go in Norman,” Lewis said. “The thing we share is county government. It’s not an us-and-them thing. We’re basically a county community. Norman stretches farther than Moore.
“We had a bank robbery the other day, and more Norman police were working it than we were. We share a fire truck from a grant I got. It’s not an us-and-them. That’s reflected in a lot of magazines naming some of the best places to live as Moore and Norman.”
Sunny Side Up moved because of the Robinson Street underpass road project.
Himalayas Aroma of India moved to Moore two years ago after the building the restaurant leased in Norman sold.
“We never had any problem. We moved because they sold the building. That ad by Tom Sherman was written without our permission,” manager Salem Balaji said. “I called the mayor’s office and told her that.”
Iron Starr Barbecue was on Campus Corner at 575 S. University, Suite 110, where Blackbird Gastropub is now located. Blackbird opened in April 2011.
The Physicians Surgical Center moved to Moore last spring when a new, state-of-the-art surgical facility was completed. The owners are a group of physicians who maintain the Orthopedic Sports Medicine Clinic in Norman. This group of doctors has a network of clinics in the region, including Weatherford, Mustang, Pauls Valley and Purcell.