The owner of a local construction company has announced his bid for the Norman City Council Ward 6 seat, promising voters to restore police funding and boost economic growth.

A Unite Norman supporter, Torvi Construction owner Alexander W. Torvi knocked on doors during the recall petition drive to oust odd-numbered city councilors and Mayor Breea Clark in August 2020. The group formed following the council’s vote on June 16, 2020, to reallocate nearly $1 million from the Norman Police Department’s proposed budget increase and earmark the money for community programs and a city auditor position.

While Torvi reported no experience in city government or serving on city boards, it would not be the first experience in civic duty for Torvi. He has served on an advisory board for Mid-America Technology Centers from 2017 to 2020, serves as secretary for his neighborhood homeowner association board and is joining Norman’s Citizens Police Academy, which begins Monday.

Torvi called public safety “a huge issue” in his decision to run for council.

If elected, Torvi plans to seek a second term.

“It’s not my goal to make this a career, but I like to fix things when I have the ability to do it. I don’t want to limit it to two years. I want to do this as long as it takes,” he said.

Torvi in 2008 started Torvi Construction in Moore. He and his wife of 32 years, Suzanne, moved to Norman in 2016 to be closer to family. His business primarily serves remodeling, flooring and general home improvement construction.

Torvi said his experience as a small business owner in both Moore and Norman revealed differences in what it’s like to start a venture in this city. He hopes to explore measures to make the city more competitive for economic growth, he said.

“I think we need a business-minded person on the council to be able to understand all the different issues that come up for development projects,” Torvi said. “

Economic opportunity “for all residents” is another issue he hopes to focus on if elected.

“I think the trade jobs — there’s not enough focus on them. There’s a large percentage of high school students who don’t feel like they fit into college,” he said. “I want opportunity for everybody. Kids need to know they have a chance to be successful even if they don’t go to college.”

During the recall petition drive, Torvi also heard from residents who worry the city’s history of flat or minimal sales tax revenue growth could mean a drop in public services. Oklahoma is the only state in the nation whose cities depend solely on sales tax to fund operations.

“A lot of residents are concerned about the city not being able to take care of its responsibilities,” he recalled. “The economic growth piece is a huge concern.”

Higher education was not a route Torvi chose and he said he hopes there are ways to get the city involved in partnerships with career technology centers and small business growth as a way to keep Norman students in the city after graduation.

While residents who supported Unite Norman’s efforts made their voices heard to Torvi, he said he will listen to and represent everyone regardless of the issue.

“I’ve always been told I’m a good listener,” he said. “We all have a civic duty to serve our neighbors, even those who don’t agree with you.”

If Torvi wins the election, he faces displacement outside his ward if the council adopts the Reapportionment Committee’s new ward boundaries. The new boundaries will not impact the Feb. 2022 election, which means Torvi would be allowed to serve his two-year term.

Torvi said he plans to seek a second term regardless of the ward he’ll live in after the boundaries are adopted.

Mindy Wood covers City Hall news and notable court cases for The Transcript. Reach her at mwood@normantranscript.com or 405-416-4420.

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