Norman's mayor, other elections across Oklahoma to be decided on Tuesday
- Editor's note: Tuesday's results have been posted here.
Voters in 72 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are headed to the polls on Tuesday, April 5 to cast their ballots for mayor, school boards, city council and other local races.
You can view a full list of races here. KOSU has compiled a rundown of some of those races, along with breakdowns of some propositions facing voters across the state.
Norman has been in the spotlight many times since the COVID-19 pandemic began for being the first city in the state to implement a mask mandate and the city council’s decision to divert more than $865,000 from a proposed police department’s budget increase to pay for social services to help the city's homeless, mentally ill and other vulnerable populations.
The past two years have produced a contentious atmosphere in the state’s third-largest city, with aggressive online rhetoric and harassment – and several failed attempts to recall – the mayor and several city council members.
In Norman’s mayoral runoff, incumbent Breea Clark will face challenger Larry Heikkila, after neither candidate secured a majority of the vote in February. Clark got 36.5% of the vote and Heikkila received 32% in the five-way race.
Incumbent: Breea Clark
Norman’s incumbent mayor, Breea Clark, is running for her seat again for another three-year term against a swath of challengers. In 2019, Clark became the youngest woman to hold the office following a stint serving as councilor of Ward 6. In Clark’s tenure as mayor, she has withstood a recall attempt and faced death threats over coronavirus restrictions and a reallocation of proposed police funding following calls for reform. Clark says if reelected, she will prioritize affordable housing and homelessness solutions, and pass a stormwater utility proposal. You can read through her priorities for Norman going forward here.
Challenger: Larry Heikkila
Larry Heikkila is a conservative candidate, Baptist deacon and former city employee. He is also the chair of the Cleveland County Excise Board and Equalization Board, and served in the U.S. Navy. Heikkila’s campaign priorities include changing the way the city handles homelessness and increasing funding for the Norman Police Department. He has been endorsed by Norman’s Fraternal Order of Police. You can learn more about Heikkila and his priorities for Norman here.
Other mayoral races:
Aaron McLeroy has served as the mayor of Tuttle since 2018 and is running for re-election in 2022. He was previously on Tuttle City Council as the Ward 1 councilmember and has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. His challenger, Judy Preston, served in the U.S. Air Force and has a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic design and is a political newcomer. At a forum hosted by the Tuttle Area Chamber of Commerce on March 29, topics brought up to candidates included: attracting businesses to Tuttle, internet, infrastructure improvements and property rights and values. The city of Tuttle is located in Grady County, which is southwest from Oklahoma City.
Either Sara Rebelo or Carla S. Fuss-Cummings will replace current Perkins Mayor Jason Shilling, whose term expires in 2022. Sara Rebelo currently serves as vice-Mayor and has been on the commission for almost a year. Rebelo previously worked for Perkins School District and is in the City of Stillwater’s human resources department. Carla S. Fuss-Cummings is a teacher at Perkins-Tryon School District.
Oklahoma has a handful of school board races to watch.
These local boards have become the nexus of culture clashes amid Critical Race Theory, masking and book ban debates. And these issues have become central to a trio of suburban races around the state.
The District 2 race features Courtney Hobgood and Cheryl Williams. Williams is a former leader of the Oklahoma Republican Party and has appeared at school board meetings, calling for her would-be colleagues to resign. One of her pleas even prompted a response from the district to combat disinformation about fourth graders being taught about Ted Bundy.
Hobgood is a mother of three who has taken a more moderate approach to the campaign. Williams received more votes than Hobgood during the first round of voting, but was unable to get a majority, which forced the runoff.
The District 5 race features incumbent Marcus Jones and challenger Michael Grande. Jones was appointed to his role on the board after his predecessor resigned last year. Grande has run on a campaign opposing mask mandates in schools.
In Jenks, school board President Terry Keeling is defending his seat from challenger Ashley Cross.
Cross has been hostile with local media, even declining a debate with her opponent because the Tulsa World was moderating. She has expressed concern about “oversexualization” in schools, a common complaint among people pushing classroom content restrictions.
Keeling has a more moderate approach, and even told the paper he opposes private school vouchers, which has been a controversial topic within the Republican Party this year.
Six propositions to watch
Norman voters are asked to decide on a proposition to fund water infrastructure replacements and improvements. The $33 million proposition would include a new water metering system, groundwater treatment and disinfection and pipe replacement. If passed, it would be Norman's first water rate increase since 2015. More information can be found here.
A $9 million bond to build a new fire station in Stillwater is up for a vote on April 5. The bond proposal is part of the branded T.I.M.E. (Together Investing in Municipal Excellence) projects by city leaders. If passed, voters would approve a general obligation bond that would be funded by property taxes to build a new fire station on Western Road, north of McElroy Road. The land is owned by Oklahoma State University. The last city municipal bond passed in Stillwater was in 1999. The City of Stillwater is not currently paying for an outstanding city bond. The bond would approximate annual property tax increases for a 20-year bond of $9 million. More information about the bond, including the ballot text, information about the current fire station here.
- Blanchard Public Schools
Blanchard citizens will cast their vote on two propositions, totaling more than $36 million dollars. The first proposition would fund the construction of a fieldhouse for the football and soccer teams, construction of new baseball and softball fields and purchase of a new heat and air system for the intermediate school. The second proposition would fund the replacement of current school buses. More information can be found here.
Voters in Bristow will decide whether to change their current form of government from having a city council to a city manager. If the four propositions pass, the change would take effect in April 2023. Bristow voters can find and read the proposition language by accessing their ballot via the OK Voter Portal from the Oklahoma State Election Board.
Catoosa voters will be asked to fund a $20.5 million dollar bond that would go to build a new public safety complex for the local police and fire departments. The bond would expire in 2048 and be paid through property taxes. More information can be found here.
- Owasso Public Schools
Voters in Owasso will be asked to decide on two propositions, totaling nearly $84 million over five years. The first proposition would fund the construction of safe rooms at the 8th Grade Center and Hodson Elementary, the repair and replacement of roofs throughout the district, technology upgrades and more. The second proposition would fund additional school buses, activity buses and suburbans. Find more information here.
There are many more races and issues being decided by voters on Tuesday. You can view a full list here.