NORMAN — Cindy Rosenthal defeated Tom Sherman and David Kempf to win her third, three-year term as mayor of Norman on Tuesday.
The mayor’s race was marked by negative campaign ads and misinformation with more than $200,000 spent in campaign funds according to the combined reports of the three candidates and their supporters and detractors.
“Friends, family and people I’d never met before reached out and said they were going to support me and reject the negativity,” Rosenthal said.
Around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sherman called Rosenthal to concede.
By 9 p.m., the unofficial numbers from the Cleveland County Election Board had been posted online and the months-long race was over.
Rosenthal, an OU professor and director of the university’s Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, announced Sherman’s call to a packed and jubilant room of supporters at Legends Times Two. The mayor thanked her family and friends for standing beside her through the negativity.
“I appreciate the call from Tom Sherman pledging his willingness to work with me,” Rosenthal said.
The mood at Sooner Legends where Sherman hosted his watch party was supportive of a hard-fought race.
“I’m disappointed, especially for all the people that worked so hard on the campaign for me,” Sherman said. “It was tough that we had such a bad day, the turnout was low, and I’m not attributing my loss to that, but it’s just a shame that we didn’t get more people out to vote in this election.”
Rosenthal, the first popularly elected woman mayor, carried 5,898 votes comprising a 54 percent majority, meaning there will be no runoff in the three-way race. Sherman carried 37 percent with 4,050 votes and Kempf garnered 928, or 8.5 percent of the vote.
The last mayor’s race in 2010 had 12,670 votes cast, Cleveland County Election Board Secretary Jim Williams said. This year, 10,876 votes were cast, a 14 percent decrease likely attributable to the rain.
“I’m really proud of Norman for rejecting disinformation and negative campaigning and looking toward what is best for Norman’s future,” Rosenthal said.
With three incumbents upset in the city council race, Rosenthal will soon lead a very changed city council.
“I have worked with new council members and a lot of different council members, and I’m confident we’ll pull together,” she said.
Sherman said the campaign and election was a learning opportunity.
“She (Rosenthal) won fair and square and I wish her luck in the next three years, and hopefully we can move Norman forward in the right way,” Sherman said. “It was my first time to run for office, and I learned that you find out who your friends are because there’s so many people that come and help you. It was a fun journey. I just wish the results had been different.”