NORMAN — The Transcript emailed four questions to Norman City Council candidates and asked for answers regarding some of the most pressing issues facing city leadership today. Candidate responses will be published in a series of three days grouped by ward. Ward 6 candidates Jim Griffith and Jerry Lang were previewed on Friday and Ward 4 city council candidates Bill Hickman, Rhett Jones and Greg Jungman were in Saturday’s Transcript. Today will be the final installation featuring Ward 2 candidates Gary Caissie, Aleisha Karjala, Matthew Leal and Clint Williams.
Candidates were asked to keep answers to 200 words or less.
1. Infrastructure needs for city water and wastewater projects have been delayed due to funding issues. Currently, under the city charter, utility rates cannot be raised without approval by voters. Do you favor asking voters to amend the charter provision to allow utility increases? If not, why not? If so, what proposal do you believe would best suit Norman and why?
· Aleisha Karjala — I would favor asking voters to amend the charter provision to allow utility increases. The purpose of elections is to hold officials accountable for the decisions that are made. City council should only raise utility rates nominally and when absolutely necessary. If those decisions cannot be justified, voters can choose not to reelect their council persons. If city council can set the rates as they go and know how much money they have coming in to cover the costs, they will be able to engage in better long-range planning for utility services. An additional consideration is that this would save the city from having to spend money for additional and usually separate elections.
· Matthew Leal — I would not favor taking the vote away from the people.
· Gary Caissie — No. The citizens, should control any policy changes to their water rates and wastewater projects.