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Home » 2023-04-04 Norman City Council Candidate Ward 5 Run-off Election

Norman City Council Ward 5 Run-off Election April 4, 2023

Pike Off OTA would like to congratulate the newly elected Norman city council members: Austin Ball representing Ward 1 and Bree Montoya representing Ward 3.  Our representatives have reached out to both incoming council members to begin working with them on the proposed Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s ACCESS Oklahoma projects impacting the City of Norman.
 
Ward 5 candidates Michael David Nash and Rarchar Tortorello are headed into a runoff election scheduled for April 4.  We look forward to working with the prevailing candidate  following the election.
 
Pike Off OTA, inc. is a 501 (c)(4) organization, we neither endorse nor support candidates through financial campaign contributions or in-kind gifts.

Pike Off OTA asked each candidate the same 4 questions. 
Responses are shown alphabetically below.

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Norman Ward 5 Candidate Responses

Question
Michael David Nash (Ward 5)
Name the top three issues facing Norman and how you would you address them?

(Michael David Nash)
Turnpike – multi-faceted approach consisting of:
• reservoirs (see OK Statutes Title 11)
• reverse culture of dissent among city staff against guidance of Council

Frivolous development:
• Prepared to vote NO on 2045 Land Use Plan (LUP) if it compromises Ward 5
• Prepared with legal arguments to reject rezoning requests that may fall in line with 2045 LUP

Water supply –
• Block Turnpike
• Keep CoN on track with 2060 Strategic Water Supply Plan (SWSP)

What existing or new policies are important to manage growth in Norman in the coming years?

(Michael David Nash)
• 2045 LUP – area around lake must not differ from 2025 LUP
• 2060 SWSP – adherence for water supply to accomodate growth
• Infrastructure – discourage expansion of municipal water east of 48th
• Todo: Zoning ordinance updates: more special uses to reduce need to re-zone
• Todo: Increases to notification radii in re-zoning requests
• Todo: Resident opt-in for automated email notifications on rezoning submissions

Describe Norman’s best quality of life features.

(Michael David Nash)
• Ward 5’s natural setting is hands-down the most prized quality of life feature.
• Because of Norman’s incredibly diverse population, a sense of belonging is within reach of anyone and everyone.
Needs Improvement:
• Safety – public perception of safety can be improved by shorter emergency response times
• Community cohesion – a sense of cohesion within the community can be improved by ending the pattern of Council
widening divisions.

What steps should be taken to protect or improve the quality of Norman’s drinking water?

(Michael David Nash)
• Block turnpike with designated reservoirs
• Keep on track with SWSP to prevent new deep CoN wells which can compromise private wells
• Educate residents of water rate applications
• Educate residents on private wells of the need to test well water; set up water testing resources to encourage testing

Question
Rarchar S. Tortorello (Ward 5)
Name the top three issues facing Norman and how you would you address them?

(Rarchar Tortorello) Norman’s top issues are homelessness, crime, and infrastructure (housing). As Norman faces a growing problem of homelessness, we must seriously consider changing our approach to address the issue rather than persist in strategies that are not working. Housing First programs have had limited to no success, so diverting funds toward Treatment First programs could be an effective way forward. Norman has seen a startling rise in the number of violent felonies, rapes, arsons, and thefts reported since the start of 2021—surpassing 2020 and 2019 totals by over 300 incidents. We need an additional 40 officers to answer emergency calls adequately. Current pay levels and the stigma of defunding make finding and keeping qualified individuals challenging. Reengineering unused spaces into domestic living facilities may kickstart new investments in the housing market. Such activity could improve employment opportunities and help mitigate issues such as overcrowding and insufficient access to affordable housing.

What existing or new policies are important to manage growth in Norman in the coming years?

(Rarchar Tortorello) Implementing policies protecting and managing our natural resources supplying our drinking water, including the Garber Wellington Aquifer, is paramount. To facilitate this, it is essential to consider a variety of strategies to ensure sustainable growth in the years ahead. This could range from tax incentives for businesses that invest in renewable resources to incentivizing local urban farming initiatives which increase food security and reduce environmental degradation. Policies protecting historically significant areas and expanding green spaces for community gardens and parks are vital investments that must not go overlooked. Additionally, proper land-use planning plays an integral role in avoiding sprawl and ensuring that all citizens have access to adequate green spaces, which provide numerous physical and mental health benefits. As Norman enters into a period of sustained growth, any new policies must strive for a balance between residential needs, environmental protection, and infrastructure improvements.

Describe Norman’s best quality of life features.

(Rarchar Tortorello) Norman stands as a beacon of culture, diversity, and convenience. Those who make the city their home are a testament to its inclusivity, as the community is populated with people from all walks of life. With its appreciation for art and culture, Norman boasts an abundance of parks and coffee shops. From exciting college sports games to incredible art galleries, cultural opportunities abound! There is a host of businesses seeking to meet the needs of locals, while families are enticed by how affordable such activities are in this thriving city. No matter your lifestyle preference, you’ll find something to love.

What steps should be taken to protect or improve the quality of Norman’s drinking water?

(Rarchar Tortorello) As the population of Central Oklahoma continues to grow, water demand is becoming more significant than ever. Of all the major communities in this region, only OKC doesn’t rely on groundwater from the Garber-Wellington. With over 20,000 private wells also tapping into this aquifer’s depths, there are growing concerns about its future sustainability and water quality. The current pumping rate is not sustainable. In a 2014 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Water Resources Board found that wells averaged a 3.75-foot drop between the late 1980s and 2009. Examination of this data highlighted that, at current maximum pumping rates as set by Oklahoma authorities, there is potential to deplete this aquifer in our lifetime. Limiting development may seem like a disadvantageous restriction for people in the area, but it’s a crucial action necessary for environmental preservation and a cleaner water source for future generations.