The Norman Transcript

July 9, 2013

New Norman council members ready to listen

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Three newly elected city council members say they’re ready to listen.

The Norman Chamber of Commerce hosted its first city council meet and greet Monday afternoon for Ward 1 Council member Greg Heiple, Ward 5 Lynne Miller and Ward 7 Stephen Tyler Holman. All three said they will listen to feedback from constituents as a primary part of their decision-making processes.

Business leaders and the public were invited to get acquainted with the three newest council members during the casual come-and-go at the chamber offices.

Also attending were Ward 3 Council member Robert Castleberry, Ward 4 Council member Greg Jungman and Mayor Cindy Rosenthal. Castleberry and Rosenthal also took the oath of office last week. Castleberry was elected after having finished a term of office through appointment, and Rosenthal won her third term in office as mayor.

The youngest to serve on the council, Holman said he hopes to inspire young people to become more involved with city hall and how city government impacts our daily lives.

College students living in Norman have something to offer the city, Holman said. Some University of Oklahoma students are here from four to eight years. He’s often heard stories of OU students who graduated, moved away and then moved back to Norman because they had learned to love the city during their college years.

He wants to get those bright, young minds involved in the city and invested in the community.

Holman also said he wants a lot of “citizen input.” He thinks it’s important to talk to people who are affected by decisions the council is facing.

Heiple said his motto for decision making is “listen, listen and listen.”

“Talk to both sides,” he said.

Heiple values feedback from opposing viewpoints in issues as a means of getting the full story. He said he will use the same skills he uses as an investment advisor, which is to listen and develop an understanding of what’s going on.

Water will be the most important topic this council faces, and quality is as important as quantity, he said.

“If we don’t get water right, it’s a game changer,” Heiple said.

Miller also thinks listening and talking to people on both sides of issues is key.

“I think the most important thing is to be as informed as possible,” she said.

Miller said she plans to read all of the materials presented to the council, though that can be voluminous. She said she also will talk to staff and other people to gather more information on important topics under consideration.

She believes it’s important to return phone calls from the public and hear what everyone has to say.

“It’s been so helpful to me,” she said. “People have called about the animal shelter.”

The animal shelter contract is one of the first major decisions Miller and her other new council members can expect to be faced with today.

Chamber Board Chair Andy Sherrer welcomed the council members and others in attendance, including state Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, who is also a local business owner.

“I grew up here,” Sherrer said to the council members. “This is a place I hold near and dear. Thank you for being a part of that.”

Joy Hampton