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A superficial debate was held for ward and mayor candidates of Norman

Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report
Candidates at Norman City Hall on Feb. 3.
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NORMAN, Okla. – The City Hall of Norman held a senior forum with the candidates for ward and mayor positions on Feb.3. One could remark the absence of Bobby Steven running for the mayor seat and the renouncement of Kyle Landford.

Ten candidates were present at the debate.

Lynne Miller and Gary Barksdale are both running for mayor. Breea Clark, Ashley Nicole McCray and Jerry Lang, actual councilman of the Ward 6, are running for Ward 6. In Ward 2, Aleisha Karjala will face Matthew Leal. In the Ward 4 running are Bill Hickman, Rhett Jones and Christina Owen.

One thing the candidates are all in agreeance upon is that the senior community is their priority.

“When something is a priority in your community you make it happen,” Breaa said.

In a certain way can we imagine that a candidate came to a forum entitled “Friends for a 21st Century Senior Citizens Center Council Candidate Forum” without saying that seniors are its priority?! Without saying the Senior Citizens Center is its priority?

“Norman needs to invest back into our seniors,” Owen said.

“We need to invest into our Senior Center,” Hickman said.

Of course, the Senior Citizens Center was the priority of the candidates and everything in correlation with seniors’ lives.

At the question, “Will you do the best for Norman despite the political pressure?” could you imagine that a candidate says no? For sure it will be the scoop of the century.

“I listen to my constituency,” Lang said.

“I am definitely not a politician,” Rhett said.

Another interesting question was about the water issue in Norman where some of the candidates were surprisingly without answers such as McCray who preferred to leave the subject to the experts and Breea said, “I need to learn more about the water issue.”

In addition, the other candidates said that the water quality is important without talking about the current chromium hexavalent contamination of the water.

“We can’t be a destination […], have a business here and be a tourist here if we don’t have drinkable water,” Owen said.

Some other subjects were discussed such as the definitions of a new dangerous animal law or Norman Forward funding and citizens’ board and commission.

The reproach that one can do concerning this debate is that it was not a debate. However how is it possible to have a real debate when you have 10 candidates for Ward, 2, 4 and 6 and also for the mayor?

A councilman represents first its ward when a mayor represents the entire city. It will be more appropriate next time to separate mayor and ward candidates.

It will permit to have more specific questions and give more time to reply for the candidates. By this process, the candidates could give more details and it would be easier to understand the real point of view of each one.

All the candidates were nice and good speakers, but their answers were too superficial and it was not possible to appreciate the potential of each one.

Norman’s citizens deserve better than a one minute answer to decide for which candidate they want to vote.

In addition, to be a member of the Wards or mayor, one also has to be capable to listen to people. “As a city council our job is to listen the community,” McCray said. Because making the right choices is not easy. “A lot of time you are making the decision between right and right,” Miller said.

But people should be sure that these candidates can lead people and take decision. “A strong community needs a strong leadership,” Breea said.

To conclude, the next time a meeting is held at the Norman City Hall, instead of watching it on TV or the internet, go to the place. One will be able to understand the candidates’ speeches when his one minute answer is finished and his microphone is switched off and he is still talking.

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About the Author

Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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