Unite Norman submitted signatures Friday in an attempt to initiate recall proceedings for Mayor Breea Clark and City Councilmember Alison Petrone. The Norman city clerk has 30 days to verify and count the signatures before a recall election can take place.
Russell Smith, co-founder of Unite Norman, said the group turned in about 21,000 signatures to be verified to set a recall election for Clark. This would exceed the amount of signatures that was required which was 18,000, 25% of registered voters in Norman.
The group submitted about 3,500 signatures to be verified to start recall proceedings for Petrone, who represents Ward 3. The required amount of signatures was about 2,500 signatures from registered Ward 3 voters. Smith said the group turned in the required amount of signatures needed to set a recall election for Councilmember Sereta Wilson, but she resigned from her Ward 5 position in July.
Over a 30-day period, Unite Norman collected signatures by setting up various pop-up locations and knocking on doors. The group filed the recall petitions after the Norman City Council voted in June to remove $865,000 from the police department’s proposed budget.
“Our mission going forward is to keep this town centered and make sure that we have candidates that represent the town and not rule the town and don’t legislate their own agendas,” Smith said.
The city’s chief communications officer Annahlyse Meyer said the earliest a recall election could take place is January 2021. That's a month before a regularly scheduled election is planned for representatives of the odd numbered wards, which includes Petrone. The next regularly scheduled election for the mayor would be in 2022.
“We are going to try to source some good candidates and vet them, find a way to democratize that in our group,” Smith said in regards to who might run against Clark and Petrone if a recall election takes place.
The group also collected signatures in an attempt to recall council members Kate Bierman and Stephen Holman, but Smith said Unite Norman did not gather enough signatures from their ward’s registered voters.
The deadline to turn in the signatures was Aug. 14. Unite Norman requested a 10-day extension to collect more signatures, alleging the group had faced “unprecedented opposition in the form of harassment, provocation and fraud that has made the petition drive impossible to fully complete.” The request was denied since there is no provision in the city’s charter for an extension, according to Meyer.
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