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Miller Wins Norman Mayor’s Race; Clark, Lang Headed To Ward 6 Runoff

Lynne Miller campaign sign
Brian Hardzinski

Voters across Oklahoma went to the polls yesterday for mostly local elections. Here’s a brief recap of some of the more significant races we’re following:

New Norman Mayor, Council Runoff

Norman will have a new mayor and two new city council members, but two of the three candidates for the Ward 6 post are headed to a runoff.

Ward 5 councilwoman Lynne Miller captured nearly 70 percent of the vote to succeed Cindy Rosenthal, who opted not to seek a fourth term. The Norman Transcript’s Joy Hampton reports Miller described herself as “superstitious,” and wouldn’t declare victory until a majority of the precincts reported:

“I didn't know how much I wanted this until this minute,” Miller said. “I love this town. I am happy, I am humbled and I am scared.” Miller is a retired teacher and school principal who currently serves as the Ward 5 representative on the Norman City Council. She moved to Norman in 1946. An off year election will be held to find her replacement. It is unknown whether the city council will appoint a Ward 5 representative in the interim. It's the first time a resident from Ward 5 has been elected as mayor, according to Miller.

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma political scientist Aleisha Karjala defeated Matthew Leal for the Ward 2 seat. Karjala previously sought the position in 2014, losing to Clint Williams. The director of Norman’s Mary Abbot Children’s House decided not to run again.

Norman attorney Bill Hickman earned nearly five times as many votes as any of his three challengers to succeed Greg Jungman as the next Ward 4 councilman. Hickman’s opponents Rhett Jones and Christina Owen both congratulated him on the Norman Ward 4 Facebook group.

“It was a fantastic race, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I'll still be here advocating for Norman,” Owen said. “We've got lots of work to do together.”

In Ward 6, Breea Clark captured 46 percent of the vote, compared to incumbent Jerry Lang's 40 percent, meaning a June 7 runoff election will take place, Hampton writes:

“I wish the first vote had taken place in March, and the runoff election had happened tonight, so we could have saved some money,” Lang said. “Having the runoff in two months is unfortunate, because it’s difficult to keep the interest up. I loved the turnout, and anything we do to lessen turnout I’m not thrilled about.” Lang congratulated Ward 5 representative Lynne Miller, who won the city’s mayoral race, and said he would continue to try and get his message across to the voters of keeping Norman Forward going, maintaining clean drinking water and keeping experience on city council. . . . Lang is a retired businessman who currently teachers and serves as an assistant principal at All Saints Catholic school. Clark is an a law school graduate who works for the OU provost’s office.

A $25 million bond issue for infrastructure repairs, and a $60 million dollar bond issue for a safe room and security enhancements at the Moore Norman Technology Center both passed overwhelmingly, along with several other propositions making changes to language in the city's charter.

Warren Wins Oklahoma County Court Clerk

Edmond Republican Rick Warren defeated state Sen. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, to become the next Oklahoma County Court Clerk.

Good night and thank you all. I'm going to need your help again, I need your supporters vote.53%- 47% Posted by Sen Anastasia A. Pittman on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Warren received 53 percent of the vote in the race to fill the unexpired term of former Court Clerk Tim Rhodes, who resigned last year to become the director of administration at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

A precinct worker helps a voter with her ballot at a polling place in Edmond Tuesday.
Credit Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record
The Journal Record
A precinct worker helps a voter with her ballot at a polling place in Edmond Tuesday.

Edmond Sales Tax Extension Passes 

Edmond voters overwhelmingly approved of a pair of 10-year sales tax extensions. The Journal Record's Dale Denwalt reports the half-cent extension will be used to fund capital improvement projects:

The tax generates about $9 million annually. Ideas for the funds include a performing arts center in partnership with the University of Central Oklahoma, and a new downtown library in partnership with the Metropolitan Library System. The city’s library is the busiest in the metro area. The existing tax ends in 2017. But there are no projects required to be completed with the half-cent sales tax, such as the Public Safety Center in the past. “I’m always impressed with the citizen participation,” said Mayor Charles Lamb. “We are set to go on another 10 years of continuing to grow Edmond.”

Shawnee, Chickasha Voters Split On Propositions

In Pottawatomie County, voters approved a 32 million dollar bond issue for several projects throughout Shawnee Public Schools, including renovating and remodeling the high school cafeteria and library and expanding the parking lot. There will also be technology improvements and new classrooms, safe rooms, and security enhancements at several other district schools.

Chickasha voters approved of a three percent increase in the city's hotel tax rate, but denied making an expiring sales tax permanent that would've funded city government.

Troubled Tulsa County Has New Sheriff
In Tulsa, Republican Vic Regalado defeated Democrat Rex Berry to become the new County Sheriff. The spot became vacant when longtime Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz was indicted, according to The Oklahoma Public Media Exchange’s John Durkee:

That investigation started after a reserve deputy was accused of shooting and killing an unarmed suspect. There had been calls in the community to scrap the reserve program, but Sheriff-elect Regalado wants to personally review the program before taking action. "I've got to believe there are quality people in there that have gone through the quality training," Regalado said. He will be sworn in on Monday, but will get very little rest from campaigning. The filing period for a four-year term begins April 13.

KGOU produces journalism in the public interest, essential to an informed electorate. Help support informative, in-depth journalism with a donation online, or contact our Membership department.

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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