Home » 2023 Norman City Council Candidate Questionnaire

Norman City Council Elections Feb 14, 2023

On February 14 the odd numbered wards in Norman, Oklahoma hold elections for city councilmember.
Pike Off OTA asked each candidate the same 4 questions. 
Their responses (or lack of response) are shown alphabetically below.

City of Norman, Oklahoma Flag A Blue and Red background behind an 8 sided white star emblem

Norman Ward 1 Candidate Responses

Question
Austin Ball (Ward 1)
Name the top three issues facing Norman and how you would you address them?

(Austin Ball) The three top issues I see in Ward 1 going into this election are crime, homelessness, and helping small businesses. The first is to build the trust between our citizens and our police department that certain members of our current council tried to destroy. We have to ensure we have enough officers to respond to any kind of emergency, that they will have the equipment they need, and most importantly the training to handle any and all situations as safely as possible. For homelessness, we must take a hand up approach and stop making people complacent and dependent on our hand outs. As far as helping small businesses, taking care of the first two issues is a huge step in attracting and keeping businesses in our community. No one wants to start a business and invest their life in something that will be broken into and vandalized.

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

(Austin Ball) We have to give our police and first responders what they need to complete the mission of keeping us safe If we don’t want the crime and hopelessness that these cities have succumbed to coming to Norman, we have to stand behind our police and first responders. We have to give them the tools to keep our streets safe and clean. We must ensure our prosecutors are holding criminals accountable and that our judges are sentencing criminals to get the help they need which more often than not isn’t jail or prison but rehab and mental health services. Once we give businesses the incentive to come and the insurance that their business will be protected once here, the sky’s the limit to how far we can go and grow.

Describe Norman’s best quality of life features.

(Austin Ball) I have to say that Norman’s biggest advantage is its people. I’ve always said that Norman is the biggest small town in Oklahoma. There is always something new to do and experience and more often than not you’re going to see someone you know when you get there. We have more resources available to help those who need a hand up than almost anywhere else in our state and a large part of these resources are funded and run by the people who live here. It’s a city I want to raise my kids in because I know they will be exposed to different ideas and beliefs and can grow into who they are meant to be and have opportunities and resources that just are not found in many other cities in Oklahoma.

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

(Austin Ball) We have to continue to partner with organizations that test and study our drinking water such as Blue Thumb of Oklahoma who regularly test and go out to our streams and rivers. We have to ensure that we don’t allow encampments to be set up because the garbage and biological waste these camps produce is washed into our streams, rivers, and lakes for us to deal with. We also have to ensure that we are properly managing our resources and utilizing what we have so we are not dependent on neighboring water sources whose quality and quantity we can’t control and which increases cost to us all.

Question
Brandi Studley (Ward 1) VACATED OFFICE / No Response Received
Name the top three issues facing Norman and how you would you address them?

(Brandi Studley No Response)

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

(Brandi Studley No Response)

Describe Norman’s best quality of life features.

(Brandi Studley No Response)

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

(Brandi Studley No Response)

Norman Ward 3 Candidate Responses

Question
Kelly Lynn (Ward 3) No Response Received
Name the top three issues facing Norman and how you would you address them?

(Kelly Lynn No Response)

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

(Kelly Lynn No Response)

Describe Norman’s best quality of life features.

(Kelly Lynn No Response)

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

(Kelly Lynn No Response)

Question
Bree Montoya (Ward 3)
Name the top three issues facing Norman and how you would you address them?

(Bree Montoya)
Top three issues
Stormwater and pollution
Increase in homelessness
Economic Development

All of the above items (and more) relate to lack of effective communication and Trust with Ward 3 residents and other members of our community.

This is evidenced by the recent votes over the past few years.

By working on rebuilding trust with our community, through communication and other means, we can resolve these issues, by getting our community well informed.

We can’t seem to get anything passed to move our City forward with the lack of trust with our Community.

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

(Bree Montoya)
The current polices and future polices that are critical to manage growth, both population and economic development, in Norman, some of which should be re-evaluated, relate to urban development and land use.

There is an impact to stormwater and flooding. We also have limited land in supply.

We need to revisit these policies to evaluation the impact future economic development.

Describe Norman’s best quality of life features.

(Bree Montoya)
Youth sports: encourages team building and confidence in our youth. Also provides healthy outlets.

Festivals: generates revenue not only for the City sales tax, but also our local businesses.

Parks and recreation: many, many residents love our outdoor green spaces. Being outdoors is beneficial in many ways, such as exercise, sleep improvement, mental restoration, reduces depression, et cetera.

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

(Bree Montoya)
Continue to monitor, maintain and improve on EPA and other Federal/State standards

Protect our water supply: ground water production and aquifers. Keep OTA away.

If we don’t and if we are forced to buy water from OKC, this could very well have a negative unforeseen impact on the City budget. According to the last Finance committee meeting held January 17, 2023, our Water Fund is in critical financial status.

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.

Question
Cindi Tucillo (Ward 5)
Name the top three issues facing Norman and how you would you address them?

(Cindi Tucillo)
Homeless
The increasing influx of the homeless into Norman must be addressed swiftly with both compassion and accountability.
Our Laws and codes must be enforced. Crime is increasing, vagrancy is increasing. Until our community stops enabling vagrant behavior, this will continue.

Infrastructure
Our water processing system needs to be updated; we have many bridges needing critical repairs, and our police and fire departments are not fully funded. Funding for these items is being redirected toward homeless issues.

Trust
The lack of trust of our city officials is front and center.
Promises between our city leaders and our citizens have been broken time and time again and money promised for specific projects used for other projects.
Currently the citizens haven’t approved a bond or tax increase in quite some time. This is because the citizens have lost trust in our leaders.
Trust must be returned to our city officials.

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

(Cindi Tucillo)
A city’s growth is essential for a city’s health. However, that growth must be balanced throughout the city. Growth in one part of a city without growth throughout isn’t healthy.
In addition to the growth of our population, our entertainment, cultural, artistic and various other categories grow equally as well.
Having various festivals and events throughout the year keep citizens interested and eager to explore more and different segments of our population.

Describe Norman’s best quality of life features.

(Cindi Tucillo)
The people! Throughout the many generations that have lived, loved and left a legacy in Norman, it’s incredible how many of Norman’s citizens were born here, stayed here and are true Normanites. As things have begun to change around Norman recently, it’s refreshing to see the many citizens willing to fight to keep Norman a safe place to live, work, play and raise a family.

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

(Cindi Tucillo)
Many view water as our most precious resource. It’s our responsibility to protect and sustain our water and our water resources. As we continue improving watershed management, it’s important we join forces with like-minded environmental groups to educate the public about the importance of water conservation.

Norman Ward 7 Candidate Responses

Question
Stephen Tyler Holman (Ward 7)
Name the top three issues facing Norman and how you would you address them?

(Stephen Tyler Holman)
• Water Quality/Protection
• Stormwater Management
• Housing Security
Council has power over zoning decisions and can ensure the lake watershed is protected from urban development.
Water is our most precious resource and should be a priority of Norman to protect it.
Stormwater & flooding management is a major challenge in Norman. When we don’t maintain stormwater channels it leads to road/bridge wash outs and increased chances of severe flooding.
Police/Fire cannot respond to emergencies if streets are flooded/bridges washed out which is a reason it’s a public safety issue.
Stormwater proposals must consider rural areas and how they are already a natural filter between the urban area and lake.
Housing affordability is a growing issue in Norman. The average monthly rent has risen faster over the last two years than any metro area nationwide and many are struggling to hang on.
If people cannot afford to keep up with rent they will [ANSWER TRUNCATED OVER 150 WORDS]

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

(Stephen Tyler Holman)
The upcoming update to our long range comprehensive plan is the single most important City policy when it comes to managing the current and future growth of Norman. I absolutely encourage everyone to pay close attention to that process even if you are not on the citizen committee working on it.
The entire process will be public and the Council will have the final say.

Describe Norman’s best quality of life features.

(Stephen Tyler Holman)
The urban/rural mix of Norman is probably one of, if not the best quality of life feature we have.
You can be in downtown Norman eating at the Diner and the then 10 minutes later be in a in the country headed to Lake Thunderbird State Park.
Historic neighborhoods and tree lined streets have been one of my favorite things about Norman since I was a kid growing up here.

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

(Stephen Tyler Holman)
Protecting the rural areas of Norman and the Lake Thunderbird watershed must be a top priority of our community when it comes to water quality. The biggest problems we face are urban runoff pollution into the lake from Norman, Moore, and OKC, in addition to tightening Federal regulations on groundwater contaminants like chromium 6. 
All our wells are in compliance currently but new regulations expected in the next few years will require us to drastically enhance how City groundwater is treated. 
We must work to protect the City groundwater system and the private wells of our residents that do not use City water. Both are important to insuring all our resources are viable for decades to come.
I will continue working on implementation of our 2060 strategic water supply plan and supporting policies that prioritize water quality.