Elections matter

You often hear the phrase, this is the most important election of our lifetime, tagged to the next big ballot. The argument can be made that the upcoming school bond and city council elections are some of the most important in Norman's history. Not only do we have the chance to provide for the safety and security of every student in Norman Public Schools, we also get the chance to help determine the policies coming from city hall.

At our January meeting, the Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors unanimously voted to support the two Norman Public School bond issues that will be on the February 12th ballot. Our members understand the direct connection between a well-educated citizenry and thriving businesses. Likewise, businesses want to locate in communities that support their schools. Norman has an exceptional track record of support for our students, each time an issue appears on the ballot.

Not only do these ballot questions provide for safety and security in every school site, they bring significant enhancements to our outstanding fine arts and athletic programs, school libraries, and alternative education, to name but a few of the investments this package offers. Let's continue to send a strong message that Norman supports its students and teachers, vote yes on the school bond!

Also, on the ballot Tuesday is the selection of the person to be Norman's next Mayor, in addition to council representatives from wards 1, 3, and 7. I would argue each of us are impacted on a greater level and more frequently by local government, than any other level of policy making. Whether it's the water we drink, the roads we drive, safe neighborhoods, or weekly sanitation service; city government plays a vital role in our lives. Not too mention, the environment that is built for job creators and job seekers. Our local elected officials can make or break our community.

I hope you have taken the time to learn about these candidates, and their thoughts on the future of our community. Do they support opportunities that retain and attract good jobs? Do they support policies that grow the economic pie so the many desired quality of life initiatives we all want can be paid for? Most importantly, do they have a vision for our community that sets us apart from all others? Take the time to learn more about each of them.

Feel free to visit our website, normanchamber.com/feb-special-elections-candidate-responses and review the candidate questionnaires they submitted. These questions and responses will you give you keen insight as to what we can expect from these public servants.

Regardless of where you live in Norman, if you are a registered voter, you have every reason to make it to the polls on Tuesday, February 12th. Please take the time to let your voice be heard. Become an active participant in the public square. Our community will be better off when your voice is heard at the polls. Vote for kids and vote for Norman!

Scott Martin,

Norman Chamber of Commerce President/CEO

Norman Citizens 4 Racial Justice score candidates

After several community forums, including our racial justice forum, Norman Citizens 4 Racial Justice created a score chart to grade the candidates from the Mayoral, Ward 1, Ward 3, and Ward 7 races. We used metrics to grade the candidates on the issues of environmental racism, cultural competency, supporting fairly funded public services, marijuana reform, police militarization and civilian oversight.

No candidate received better than a "C" grade overall but we feel the candidates that we are supporting would do the most to advance racial and social justice in Norman. Our choices are:

Breea Clark for mayor.

Allison Petrone in Ward 3.

Stephen Tyler Holman in Ward 7.

In Ward 1, we could not come to a conclusion.

For some candidates, we could find no indication of effort or interest in the specific area of consideration. That apparent lack might not accurately reflect actual views or interests, thus, we encourage all public figures to be more overt in their efforts toward equity and inclusion.

We encourage all candidates and elected officials to strive to do better on the issues concerning racial justice. And we need the public's help to hold candidates accountable for speaking out on racial justice issues after they take office.

Achieving racial justice doesn't end with awareness or a successful campaign. It ends with reconciliation, a redistribution of political, economic and social power, and continued efforts to dismantle white supremacy.

Deon Osborne

Norman Citizens 4 Racial Justice

Vote 'yes' on NPS school bond

I urge all voters to support Norman Public Schools with two "YES" votes for the school bonds Tuesday. Check the boxes for bond propositions one and two.

I have been a resident of Oklahoma for 25 years -- most of that time I've been a Normanite. I don't have children, but I still value great schools as a foundation for a strong community. Norman schools have always impressed me with their reputation for excellence in academics and the arts.

They continue to be among the highest-ranked in the state. I love hearing about National Merit Scholars, winning debate teams and enthused art and music students. It gives me hope to see Norman students so energetic and thriving in the world that they create.

The NPS bonds will fund storm shelters at every school that doesn't already have one, a new Dimensions Academy and an expansion of the Nancy O'Brian Center for the Performing Arts. It will pay for textbooks, library books, expand the iTech program, install hi-tech bus tracking software, and repair and maintain schools throughout the district.

Administrators have proven time and again they are good stewards of public funds. They continue to deliver on their promises from one bond to the next. I trust them to deliver on this next bond package, too.

Voter turnout for city elections is usually low. That means when you vote you get to voice your opinion a little stronger, a little louder. When we elected our current mayor only 10,000 people voted. I never want to be the one who causes a school bond like this to fail.

School bonds require a supermajority to pass. Requiring 60 percent of votes makes passing school bonds just a little bit harder, quite a bit in some communities. Normanites, though, have historically been big supporters of Norman Public Schools.

I look at it this way: when all votes are counted, the count needs to show 60 percent plus one yes votes for each proposition to pass. What if I didn't show up and the bonds failed by one vote? Bonds have failed by one vote elsewhere in Oklahoma. Let's not let that happen here. I cast my votes early today at the County Election Board and it felt great.

Show Norman's students, teachers and administrators that you continue to support them. You might just count your votes as early Valentine's Day gifts to Norman.

Yes, this bond will result in a small increase in property taxes to fund the $186 million bond program. But at 30 mills, we'll be more closely aligned with our peer school districts.

The Norman school district has not requested an increase in 18 years -- that's a generation! The new rate means that a typical homeowner will see an increase of about $44 per year, which equates to about one latte a month. Take my money!

Great schools create smart kids and build vibrant communities. I am happy to spend money on education in my community, it's an investment in our future. It's an investment in a stronger Norman.

Ann-Marie Funk

Norman

Written responses reveal best candidates

Editor, Norman Transcript:

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT is that each Norman citizen VOTE on Tuesday. For that reason, kudos to The Norman Transcript for providing an extensive guide to Norman voters prior to the city council and mayor elections. The questions were thoughtful and addressed serious and critical issues.

To me, the structure, attitude and sensitivity of a persons' written answers offer better insight to their character and intentions than the words used. Oral presentations can be practiced well enough to sound believable. Written responses usually reveal the internal mores (true feelings) of a person. The responses reflected a varied array of the inner beliefs and attitudes of the candidates.

We have been fortunate for the past decade to have a mayor who is a listener, thinker, collector of facts that lead to decisions that are in the best interest of the city at large. My preference is to elect someone who will follow this example. I found such a candidate in the responses, and will vote my finding. I suggest each voter conduct a similar exploration. Of course, that is my opinion, I could be wrong.

P.S.: The school bond issue is a vital step up for Norman and the future of our children. PLEASE VOTE YES-YES!

Bill Huntington

Norman