The City of Norman announced Monday the effort to recall Mayor Breea Clark has fallen short. Norman is one of a handful of cities across the U.S. already making efforts to reallocate police funding following calls for reform, which prompted the recall attempt. The group Unite Norman did, however, gather enough valid signatures to begin recall proceedings for Ward 3 Councilmember Alison Petrone.
The group first filed petitions in July in an effort to recall the mayor and half of the council members after the Norman City Council voted to remove $865,000 from the police department's proposed budget in June.
Unite Norman submitted signatures to the city in August in an effort to recall Clark and Petrone, but did not collect the amount of signatures needed for council members Kate Bierman and Stephen Holman. Councilmember Sereta Wilson resigned before the signatures were submitted.
The recall petition for Clark required signatures from 25% of registered voters in Norman, which is 18,154 signatures. Of the 20,661 signatures submitted for Clark by Unite Norman, more than 3,600 were found to be invalid, leaving the required number out of reach.
Signatures were found to be invalid due to not being a registered Norman voter, duplicate entries, unverifiable name or a name not matching the registered address.
“My family and I are glad this process is over, and I want to thank them as well as our friends and residents for their unwavering support,” Clark posted on Twitter Monday night. “I will continue to work tirelessly for our city and its residents as I have always done."
In a press release, City Clerk Brenda Hall said the verification process for the mayoral petition is not yet complete, but the city has made enough progress to determine there are an insufficient amount of signatures. She said the city will work to complete the final verification process for the petition.
The recall petition for Petrone did get enough verified signatures to begin recall proceedings. Of the 3,444 signatures Unite Norman submitted for Petrone, 2,580 were verified as eligible voters, which is only seven more than the number of signatures that was required.
The recall petition for Petrone will now go before the Norman City Council to be put on a ballot for the final voter decision.
Over a 30-day period, Unite Norman collected signatures by setting up various pop-up locations and knocking on doors. The deadline to turn in the signatures was Aug. 14. Hall had 30 days to verify and count the signatures.
“Even if we don’t get the mayor out… we think we’ll be sending a very clear message that at some point, the silent majority has had enough, and you can’t legislate radically in this town,” Russell Smith, co-founder of Unite Norman, said in August about the recall effort.
Unite Norman indicated in a press release that the group “will be exploring all legal avenues available” once the verification process for the mayoral petition is complete.
KGOU is a community-supported news organization and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.