A petition to recall several Norman City Council members and Mayor Breea Clark will be filed Friday, Russell Smith of Unite Norman said.
Smith addressed members of the Cleveland County Republican Party Tuesday afternoon during a luncheon at Van’s Pig Stand in Moore.
Unite Norman, a local group which Smith said may soon file as a 501(c)(4), is led by a citizen committee. While Smith said he could not divulge an exact amount of money citizens have donated for the cause, it is “in the thousands” of dollars.
The Facebook page Unite Norman has nearly 2,000 members, and the seven-member committee is still accepting participants, Smith told The Transcript. He would not divulge their names until he obtained their permission.
For three weeks, citizens have been meeting to discuss recall petitions for Ward 1 Kate Bierman, Ward 3 Alison Petrone, Ward 5 Sereta Wilson and Ward 7 Stephen Holman after they voted to amend the Norman Police Department, local developer Sassan Moghadam previously told The Transcript. The decision cut nine unfilled positions during the June 16 meeting when protesters demanded the city defund the police department.
Even-numbered wards cannot be recalled within six months after taking office.
Smith told around 60 people who attended the meeting that the committee has hired Patrick McFerron. The political strategist has helped organize volunteers and is prepared to deploy an app to help identify potential signers for petitions.
Volunteers have agreed to knock doors and use an app McFerron recommended to identify which voters are more likely to sign the petition, Smith said.
The Advantage Mobile application uses voter contact services technology to help identify registered voters, the description reads. Smith urged members of the audience to attend Wednesday night’s meeting to participate in training on the app to help prevent errors in gathering signatures of registered voters.
“(These different addresses) will basically break down into tiers (as to) who (is) most likely to sign these petitions,” he said.
Smith said the movement to recall these council members and Clark is a bipartisan effort.
“I’m in a room full of Republicans — and I’m a Republican myself — but it’s going to be a bipartisan effort,” Smith said. “We have pure insanity on the council right now and the mayor’s office. What city do we live in right now? It feels like New York City or LA.”
He insisted the move to recall officials had nothing to do with party affiliation.
“One tagline that’s probably a takeaway (from critics) is, ‘Oh, you’re going to take out democratically elected officials, but your group is called Unite Norman.’ No, I’m taking out divisive radical officials,” he told the room full of Republicans. “I’m not taking you out because you’re a Democrat or you’re on the left — I’m taking you out because you’re radical.”
While he told attendees at the luncheon that he started to pay closer attention to the actions of the council after it considered becoming a sanctuary city, it was their vote on the NPD budget that inspired him to get involved.
According to the city charter, recall petitions must be returned within 30 days with signatures from 25% of registered voters for that official. After signatures are verified, the council will issue a recall election for the remaining term. The council will set filing for an election to fill the vacancy 10 days after the date of the recall vote and last until 5 p.m. of the 11th day after the recall election. A recalled official cannot seek office for one year.
Smith said he has not spoken to the Cleveland County Democratic Party because he has not yet been invited, but he said Democrats want to sign the petition and are interested in seeking office.
“Both Democrat and Republican candidates are interested in seeking office if petitions are successful,” he told The Transcript following the meeting. “We have people reach out to us all the time wanting to sign the petition on both sides.”
Smith said he is not seeking election if the petitions are successful.
Mindy Ragan Wood