Kelly Lynn, Ward 3 City Council member, hopes voters will support him for a second term as he plans to continue a “culture shift on the dais” when it comes to policy.
Lynn will face Bree Montoya in the primary on Feb. 14. Council terms are two years with elections for the odd-numbered wards during odd years and even numbered wards in even years.
Since 2020, three self-identified conservatives have been elected to the council — Lynn was joined by Ward 5’s Rarchar Tortorello in 2021 and Mayor Larry Heikkila in 2022.
While the three don’t always agree, Lynn said they have brought forward another perspective alongside progressive members on council which has been valuable during the policy decision process.
An instance that perspective influenced policy was the location of an emergency homeless shelter near a charter school, he recalled.
If the city did not screen for registered sex offenders it could allow them to stay in the shelter within 5,000 of a school — a violation of state law.
Both Lynn and Tortorello opposed the shelter move to the Griffin Memorial Hospital campus for those reasons. While the shelter plans failed to materialize after Griffin announced it would sell its holdings, city staff agreed that screening perspective clients should be added to its intake documents.
Lynn has also opposed social policies such as homeless shelters because he believes it is the role of the faith and non-profit communities.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, he said. While issues like homelessness encroach on business operations and neighborhoods, Lynn said policies must be fair to everyone — not just the few.
More resources for the homeless mean more homeless could be drawn to the community for those resources, he said.
“It’s the collateral damage of good intentions,” Lynn said. “I believe in being charitable. I am charitable and help people be charitable through their own good means and good heart through their nonprofits and churches, but I do not believe it is the job of government to do that with tax dollars.”
Lynn said homeless shelters and affordable housing are “good intentions” but those policies beg the question, “at what cost?”
Where he does believe tax dollars should be allocated are infrastructure and public safety. The council’s decisions in the past to spend money on social programs has led his constituents to believe that the city’s other major needs like bridges, roads and stormwater remain neglected, he said.
“It’s all I hear,” he said. “Even from Democrats. People are really ticked. I go to Democrat doors and they’re like, ‘Yeah I don’t like some of you, but you can you do something about this?’
“There are all these people and it’s not about political affiliation.”
Voters have recently declined a water rate increase, something Lynn said he fully supports, and in 2020 a general obligation bond for quality-of-life projects.
Lynn said he plans to focus on getting the water rate increase passed, continue to focus on bridges, and other infrastructure needs.
He also plans to see the city move forward with economic development and prepare for the population growth to come when the University of Oklahoma joins the Southeastern Conference. City and university officials have said Norman’s student population and tourism will increase.
He called the move to the SEC economic good fortune for the city.
“One of my priorities is ushering in this economic growth and good fortune that is headed our way to usher in it in responsibly,” he said. “Those are your tax dollars and we need to spend wisely on things that are for the collective and not for the few.”
Lynn is a local attorney who serves children through the Guardian Ad Litem program.
Additionally, he recently joined Bethesda, which assists children who have experienced trauma, as general counsel. He is also a municipal judge for the city of Wewoka in Seminole County.
Working with Bethesda is the “one of the most humbling and greatest things that has ever happened in my life,” he said. “I cannot wait to get started. They heal children. They have helped helped people very close in my life.”
Lynn is an Oklahoma National Guard veteran. He graduated from John Brown University in 2009 with a degree in Organizational Management and from Oklahoma City University Law School in 2013 with a law degree.