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Norman voters elect new mayor, pass multimillion dollar bonds

NORMAN — Voters in Norman elected retired educator Lynne Miller as mayor and passed a $25 million roads bond and a $60 million bond to expand facilities and add safe rooms to the Moore Norman Technology Center.

Miller, 70, who is in her second term as Ward 5 representative, beat Gary Barksdale, 52, a math professor at OU and former public education teacher, in a landslide victory, grabbing nearly 70 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

“I'm very, very excited, honored and humbled,” Miller said. “It's a huge responsibility, but a wonderful opportunity to serve my community. I didn't realize until the votes were in how much I wanted to be mayor. I'd like to thank all my friends and supporters. It is a  great win.”

Miller will assume the post being vacated by Cindy Rosenthal, who is completing her third three-year term as mayor. Rosenthal did not run for a fourth term.

The street maintenance bond request passed overwhelmingly, with 75 percent voting in favor. The five-year bond will not raise property taxes, because it will replace a current five-year street maintenance bond set to expire. Bond money will pay for paving all city rural roads, lighting, sidewalk and bike path improvements and reconstruction projects.

City Manager Steve Lewis said the bond will allow the city to continue the street maintenance program it started in 2005. 

"In addition to some drainage improvements, we will be able to improve over 122 lane miles of neighborhood streets without an increase in the tax levy," Lewis said. 

Voters also approved expansions at the Moore Norman Technology Center by more than 64 percent. The $60 million bond will go toward building safe rooms, improving security and constructing new facilities. 

Norman voters also cast ballots in three ward races. Aleisha Karjala, 41, an associate professor of political science at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, beat Matthew Leal, 33, a retail worker, to succeed incumbent Councilman Clint Williams in Ward 2. Karjala won with 1,071 votes to Leal's 841.

In Ward 4, Bill Hickman, 47, an attorney, beat Christina Owen, 31, a small-business owner, and Rhett Jones, 40, a retail worker, to succeed Councilman Greg Jungman. Hickman won with 1,048 votes, 67 percent of the total turnout. 

In Ward 6, Breea Clark, 32, the associate director of academic integrity programs at the University of Oklahoma, forced incumbent Councilman Jerry Lang, an assistant principal at All Saints Catholic School, into a runoff election. Clark garnered 46 percent of the vote, with Lang not far behind at 40 percent. Ashley Nicole McCray, 31, got slightly more than 13 percent of the vote. 

Voters can cast their ballots in Ward 6 for Clark and Lang in the June 28 statewide primary election. 

Voters also approved seven housekeeping amendments, all of which were recommended by the city's Charter Review Commission.

The charter amendments will make updates such as requiring any city employee seeking an elected office to take a leave of absence while campaigning and adding a provision to the city charter requiring the council to consider a charter review every 10 years. All seven amendments passed by wide margins. 

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