By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman City Council will say goodbye to three-term Council member Dr. Jim Griffith. Griffith served the city for six years but was toppled by political newcomer Jerry Lang in voting Tuesday.
In Ward 4, Greg Jungman retained his council seat and will serve a second term.
In Ward 2, Clint Williams and Aleisha Karjala will face off in a June runoff to replace Councilman Tom Kovach, who did not seek re-election.
Ward 8 Council member Chad Williams did not draw an opponent and retained his seat.
Lang said he was stunned when his brother, Joe, called from California to congratulate him. Joe Lang was following the race online and saw the results before Jerry did.
“I am absolutely humbled. This experience the last two months has been so rewarding, just getting and meeting people door to door,” Jerry Lang said. “It’s the reason Connie and I live in Norman. The people in Norman are so phenomenal.”
Lang said even when people didn’t agree with him, they would talk about the issues and express their concerns.
“There’s no way I can express how overwhelmed and honored I am,” Lang said.
Lang, 59, is a former businessman turned third-grade teacher at All-Saints Catholic School.
Griffith, 65, has been a Norman dentist for 25 years and is a former adjunct professor in the OU College of Dentistry. He served on the city council since 2008.
“I’m deeply appreciative of all the support I’ve received from my constituents during my six years on (the) council,” Griffith said. “It’s been time well invested.”
Griffith said he is grateful to all of his supporters and campaign contributors.
“I’m disappointed I’ll not get to serve another term,” Griffith said, “but I congratulate Mr. Lang on his victory and wish him all the best.”
Ward 6 includes the area between 12th Avenue Northwest and 36th Avenue Northeast, with a northern Boundary of Indian Hills Road and a portion between 12th Avenue Northeast and 24th Avenue Northeast, with a southern boundary of Alameda Street.
Jungman retained his Ward 4 city council seat, winning over two challengers, William Hickman and Rhett Michael Jones. Jungman, 37, has 13 years continuous service as a civilian federal employee and manager. He won by a 62 percent margin, which precludes a runoff.
“This is a victory for all of Norman,” Jungman said. “We are all neighbors — literally — and we can simply work together to resolve any disagreement. I can’t thank enough my family, my campaign team and my neighbors in every corner of Ward 4 for their faith in me.”
Hickman, 45, is an attorney who serves as the 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.
“I want to thank my family and my supporters through this campaign process,” Hickman said. “I’m proud of the issues that we’ve raised, and I look forward to working with Councilman Jungman to get some things done for our neighborhoods.”
Jones, 38, is an accountant working at Don Armstrong CPA. Jones good-naturedly joined Griffith and Jungman at a watch party hosted at MainSITE.
“Greg (Jungman) and I disagree on certain points when it come to economic development,” Jones said, “but there’s a lot of things we agree on when it comes to protecting the neighborhoods in 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. The area includes historic districts, Campus Corner, downtown and some of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
As an open seat, Ward 2 drew the most candidates. Kovach announced prior to filing that he would not seek re-election.
Williams handily won the seat against three opponents but narrowly missed the required margin to avoid a runoff. He will face off with Karjala in June.
“I am honored to have been selected as one of two candidates who will continue to vie for the Ward 2 seat on the city council,” Williams said. “I look forward to sharing more plans and ideas with Ward 2 residents as the campaign goes forward.”
Williams, 31, is the executive director of the Mary Abbott Children’s House and former executive director of The Xenia Institute.
Karjala, a 39-year-old educator, is a 16-year resident of Norman and vice chair of the Library Board.
Also running were Matthew Leal, 31, who moved to Norman nearly a decade ago after his last deployment with the Oklahoma Army National Guard, and Gary Caissie, 53. Caissie is the president of Oklahoma Flight Research Center, a nonprofit he started in 1998.
Ward 2 includes the area east of Interstate 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.
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