The Norman Transcript

January 27, 2014

Voters select council candidates

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Norman voters will select new city council candidates on April 1. This year’s election includes the even numbered city council seats — Wards 2, 4, 6 and 8 . There are contested races in Wards 2,4, and 6.

There will be no race in Ward 8. Incumbent Chad Williams was the only candidate to file, and he will retain that seat.

“I have learned much from the two years on council,” Williams said. “Decisions need to be made by including as many stakeholders as possible in conversations, listening to all sides of issues and determining what outcome will work best for our community. Thank you for entrusting me with another two years of service.”

Races in the other three wards could prove interesting with four candidates filing for Ward 2 and three in Ward 4.

Ward 2

Ward 2 includes the area east of I-35 between Robinson Street and the southern city limits, east on Robinson Street to 24th Avenue Northwest.and south to Dakota. Ward 2 borders Berry Road on the east from Denison Street to Imhoff Road and south of Imhoff Road the eastern boundary is Chautauqua Avenue.

Since the recent reapportionment of wards, this ward now includes approximately the south half of the section north of Main Street between I-35 and Berry Road with Dakota, Iowa and Denison being the northern boundary.

As an open seat, Ward 2 drew the most candidates. Incumbent Tom Kovach announced prior to the filing period that he would not run again.

Ward 2 candidates are:

· Gary Caissie, age 53, has lived in Norman since the fall of 1983 when he started school at the University of Oklahoma. Caissie said his good skills with the public will make him a good city council representative. If elected, he said he will listen to the people, hear their concerns and make sure they’re well represented.

Caissie is the president of Oklahoma Flight Research Center, a nonprofit he started in 1998.

· Aleisha Karjala, a 39-year-old educator, is a 16-year resident of Norman and vice chair of the Library Board. Karjala said that she believes there must be improvement upon education, city services and economic development to preserve the quality of life in Norman.

A single parent, Karjala has served as a PTA volunteer and president of the Norman High School Boys’ Soccer Team Booster Club. After finishing her education at the University of Oklahoma, Karjala accepted a position at USAO in Chickasha. After her son graduated from the Norman public school system, she joined the Library Board.

· Matthew Leal, 31, said he moved to Norman nearly a decade ago after his last deployment with the Oklahoma Army National Guard. He is married to Lisa and has a son. Leal said he wants to continue the high standards of Ward 2 and the city of Norman by working for smart community growth and safety and improving quality of life. He wants to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ money.

“I have also recently served on the Strategic Water Supply Planning Committee,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to earn the privilege of serving the citizens of Ward 2 and the city of Norman.” 

· Clint Williams, 31, has lived in Norman for 12 years. He is the executive director of the Mary Abbott Children’s House and former executive director of The Xenia Institute, positions which allowed him to work for causes in the public domain.

“I spent great amounts of time and energy helping people listen to each other and work together, and I believe working toward shared goals is integral to our city’s future success,” Clint Williams said.

He was a member of Leadership Norman 2012 and has served on the Development Oversight Committee for TIF District No. 2.

“Above all, I am committed to the people of Norman,” Clint Williams said. “I am a listener and a leader — a person who thinks carefully and weighs all the facts before making a decision.”

Ward 4

Ward 4 encompasses Robinson Street to Lindsey Street with an east boundary of 12th Avenue West and a west boundary of Berry Road excluding the area north of Acres Street. It also includes a southwestern leg south of Lindsey extending to Imhoff Road stretching between Berry Road and Chautauqua Avenue.

Incumbant Ward 4 Council member Greg Jungman will face two challengers in his bid to retain his seat.

Ward 4 candidates are:

· William Hickman, 45, is an attorney at Hickman Law Group. He has been married to Shelly for nearly 23 years, and the couple has three children. He has been a volunteer coach for the Norman Youth Soccer Association, a scout leader and football coach for the Norman Optimist Club.

He is a retired captain in the U.S. Air Force, earning his bachelor’s from the U.S. Air Force Academy, his MBA from Auburn University and his law degree from OU. Hickman is chair of the Jim Thorpe Association’s Warren Spahn Gala and a past president of his rotary club. He is also chair of the Board of Directors for the Good Shepherd School for children with autism and is legal counsel for the John Rex Elementary Charter School.

· Rhett Michael Jones, 38, is an accountant working at Don Armstrong CPA. He has lived in Norman most of his life. He is involved in Norman Music Festival and has served on that board since year two of the festival. He also volunteers with the Norman Arts Council. Jones lives in downtown Norman.

“The vast majority of my family lives in Norman and throughout Cleveland County,” he said. “We are invested in the community. It’s important to be involved.”

The study of the corridor linking Campus Corner and downtown is a primary area of interst to Jones. He said many voters may have trouble keeping up with all of the options and he hopes to aid the city in gettiing things done in a fically responsible manner.

· Greg Jungman, 37, wife Julie, and children are 13-year residents of Norman’s Historic neighborhoods having lived in the Miller Historic District and now in the Chautauqua District. Jungman said interest in creating a sustainable, walkable, and authentic community “is really taking off,” and needs “appropriate policies to ensure responsible development and sustainable community practices.”

The issue affects Norman’s quality of life and fiscal health.

“We can harness private investment and preserve our existing assets at a much lower cost than repairing ill-considered development and replacing historic structures,” he said.

Jungman has a BA in Public Affairs, and a Master of Public Administration, from OU. He has 13 years continuous service as a civilian federal employee and manager.

Ward 6

In Ward 6 incumbant Jim Griffith has one challenger. Ward Six includes the area between 12th Avenue Northwest and 36th Avenue NE, with a northern Boundary of Indian Hills Road and a portion between 12th Avenue NE and 24th Avenue NE with a southern boundary of Alameda Street

· Jerry Lang, 59, has been married to Connie for 40 years and lived in Norman for 33 years. He worked in the food service industry for Hardees and for Sonic. He was in Operations, then Marketing, and finally the Franchise Operations Department. He had budget responsibility and had to monitor income and spending of his department. For the past 10 years he has been a teacher at All Saints Catholic School.  

“I plan to bring a fresh perspective and ideas that have a positive impact on all of our citizens,” he said. “I have two daughters, a son, and three grandchildren who live in Norman, and I want Norman to be as great a community for them as it was, and is, for Connie and me.”

· Jim Griffith, 65, has lived in Norman since 1961. He graduated from Norman High School and OU. He has practiced dentistry in Norman for 25 years and is a former Adjunct Professor of the College of Dentistry. He has served on council since 2008.Griffith is a graduate of the 1997-1998 Leadership Norman class. He was a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters, volunteered dentistry services at Health for Friends for 10 years and volunteered as a tutor at the Norman Public Library for the Adult Literacy Program. He served 18 years on the Norman Board of Parks Commissioners. His wife, Claudia, is a native of Norman. They have one daughter, Amy, and two sons, Brian and James.

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