“Oh Time, Strength, Cash and Patience!”– Herman Melville
We Can’t Do It All, All At Once
As in any aspect of life, there are always many things we need or want to do, and never as many resources as we’d like to have to accomplish things. As the voice of Ward 4 residents on City Council, I’ll do my best to research all the issues, listen, and prioritize. But part of being a responsible public servant is also making sure tax dollars are being spent wisely and for the greater current and future good of the community. So I also promise that I’m not going to use my position, if elected, to try to accomplish things outside the scope of the basic municipal priorities Norman residents want City Council to focus on.
These are some of the issues (not in any particular order) that I think are on the mind of Norman residents:
- True nonpartisan representation
- Finding solutions that balance the needs of all the citizens of Ward 4
- Refunding our police
- Implementing or building on programs that engender good relationships between our police and the citizens they protect
- Reducing crime
- Reducing homelessness
- Ensuring our children are well educated and protected
- Completing projects started by past administrations
- Prioritizing upgrading our storm water system
- Full transparency in government
- Ensuring citizens are given unbiased complete information prior to an election so they can make an informed vote
- Making sure citizens are guaranteed to be able to vote on important issues
- Making sure citizens can hold their mayor and representatives accountable
- Eliminating excessive regulations to encourage business growth in Norman and lead to more affordable housing
- Start a program that will, by working with citizens and businesses, plant more trees to beautify and cool our city
These are some of the questions I’m most frequently asked to answer. If you have other questions or issues, please contact me and if I think it will be of interest to other residents, I’ll try to answer them here too!
Many candidates are basing their campaigns on present issues; however, constituents are focused on both present and future issues. What future issues are you addressing in your campaign?
Non-partisan equal representation, protection of constitutional rights, safety of our citizens, respecting the election results of citizens, election integrity and establishing a path for citizens to hold their representatives accountable for failing to do any of these things. Making Norman more business friendly to keep people employed, finishing projects that have already been promised to the people, ensuring citizens are allowed to vote on issues that will be a large or increasing burden to the people or fundamentally change our city. Making sure there is transparency in government and people are given all the facts (good and bad) on issues up for a vote. Decrease the number of individuals living on the streets by working with police, District Attorneys and judges to de-incentivize transients from coming to Norman by holding these individuals accountable for their actions and working harder to get individuals the treatment they need. Working to get the truly homeless back on their feet in a home and job. Creating a program that works was citizens to plant more trees in Norman to help our environment. Reduce waste of taxpayer funds, such as when streets are redone and then torn up to fix the pipes underneath. Find ways to address the stormwater issues. Currently I’m working on getting signatures for 2 petitions. The first requires City Council and the mayor to allow taxpayers to vote on whether we want to have city-funded homeless shelters. The second requires any homeless shelters be at least 1/2 a mile from any school, daycare or park to protect our children.
What is your stance on rezoning agricultural lands for commercial development, especially when surrounding neighbors oppose such development?
Our agricultural lands are essential. They provide multiple essential needs and should be protected, especially when that is the will of the people.
What will you do to alleviate mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as lack of affordable housing to help all Normanites, especially our unhoused population?
First we have to be willing to make the distinction, there are transients and then there are homeless. There are those individuals that are down on their luck and then there are those individuals who have made a life of living on the streets and traveling from place to place, often time, to where they know there are benefits or lenient policies. It is not a kindness to provide everything an individual needs to continue living on the street. Within a year of living on the street it becomes a way of life and harder to get that individual off the street. There is a city where the mayor ran a campaign that urged citizens not to give money, possessions or cash to transients and homeless. Then the police and social workers made it a point to make contact with the individuals in the city. With every contact with an individual, they encouraged them to enter the system that allows them to get the help they need whether it is drug rehabilitation, counseling or work training. For those individuals who are down on their luck, housing first works. For those individuals who are mentally ill or drug addicted, housing first does not work. They need to be admitted into a facility where the support they need is readily available whether that facility is in Norman or another city. Also, individuals on the street must be held accountable for their actions no matter what. Even being admitted into the system through the courts allows them a chance to the path of rehabilitation. I want to work with police, prosecutors and judges to find sentences that are appropriate and not unduly harsh. For mild offenses, I believe in community service, the appropriate counseling and drug rehabilitation where needed. For those individuals who are unwilling to enter the system and work to get better, they almost inevitably leave to find another city. When it comes to housing, we have to eliminate the over the top regulations that make it hard or undesirable for companies to create the low-income housing that every city needs.
BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and low income members of our community are commonly unrepresented on the City of Norman’s standing committees. What will you do to ensure that they are brought to the table?
I refuse to treat people differently simply because of the color of their skin, their ethnic background or their income level. Individuals are complex and not so simply defined. For a city government position, I will always vote for the person who is the most qualified, will be the most non partisan, will represent all the people in their area, and be able and willing to find compromises that balance everyone’s needs whether it be in a Ward or the City. To help BIPOC and low-income individuals, I believe in making sure EVERY citizen is provided quality primary education that will encourage and enable EVERY SINGLE CHILD to rise to any education level, career or political position they aspire to achieve.
What are your thoughts on how to best manage storm water issues, such as ensuring updated storm water control measures are used when evaluating the impact of development? When can we expect to see changes to storm water policies that reflect the current population and development in Norman?
I believe that critical infrastructure should always be a priority. The city continues to take on projects that divert money from updating that infrastructure. The citizens have already voted for certain projects; and, that has to be honored. However, no new projects should be taken on until our stormwater system has been addressed. Many people have told me that they voted against the funding to update the stormwater system; because, they had previously voted to fund it and the money was directed elsewhere. When it comes time, we will probably have to look for funding again; but, this time, we have to do better in educating citizens of the great need for updating the system and give assurance that the money will be used for no other purpose. For buildings, I know that there are regulations that can control how much land remains available to absorb rainwater. While I believe we should eliminate unnecessary regulations, I do believe that it is critical to not concrete up the whole planet. We need soil to absorb the rain. We need trees and plants to draw the water from the soil and also to cool our planet. People talk about reducing carbon emission; but, no one ever talks about how it is cooler in the countryside than it is in the city.
How will you vet companies regarding the long term environmental and social impact they could have on our communities?
I personally would not want companies that are high pollutants in Norman. While there is immediate monetary gain, the cost of healthcare would steal that gain back. I also have long believed that parking lots could be more appropriately-sized or have more green medians with plants and trees to beautify our city and to mitigate the damage of concreting such a large area. We also have to protect our small businesses while also encouraging new businesses to come to Norman. I would want to speak to small business owners to find out how they are impacted and how to protect them. I know that there’s probably no perfect solution. However one thing I know is that there are some businesses that come to a town and put the small businesses out of work while providing fewer job positions. That can only hurt a city and its people.
How will you preserve the current Community Separator Area between Franklin and Indian Hills road?
I will not pretend to know all the information that is needed to give a complete educated answer to this question. I can tell you this. Farmland is essential; but, it is equally essential that we preserve areas for our wildlife. We must also keep our rivers, lakes and ponds free of pollutants. I do not know who owns this land; and, while I believe in limited government and protecting individuals constitutional rights, some regulations are needed to ensure we protect these areas, the animals and the Earth for future generations. If this land is owned by the city it should be protected and preserved. If any of this area is privately owned and residentially zoned it would have to remain so. I would not want it to be commercially zoned. I do not know if regulations can change regarding building in these areas; however, I would want guidelines I have seen in place in other cities. Builders are not allowed to clear-cut, flatten areas or remove boulders, bushes or trees. They are also not allowed to overbuild. They are required to build around nature to preserve as much of it as possible. To keep our rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds clean, there must also be at least 100 feet of vegetation buffer between the building site and the water. There must also be an adequate number of detention ponds.I would also reach out to experts for further advice.
How will you preserve the watershed of Lake Thunderbird and the Canadian and Little River corridors?
This is something an entire city has to get behind. I think we need to have a campaign that educates and enlists citizens, schools and businesses to help in solving this problem. We need programs with volunteers to go to schools to educate children. We need to enlist OU to do their part for the city. As I said before, we need to have requirements that businesses limit the size of their parking lots or ensure they have green spaces within the parking lots to help absorb rainwater. Companies that mow lawns could be required to handle grass clippings properly or be fined. Building codes should be updated to ensure there is an adequate amount of permeable ground to absorb rainwater per building site. I also believe my plan to work with citizens to plant more trees will help with runoff as trees will help keep soil from becoming waterlogged. I would also ask for advice from experts in this subject as well.
How will you support updating the building codes to mitigate the increase of extreme weather events due to climate change?
Oklahoma has always been a place of extreme weather events. I would also have to work with experts in this field to know what is possible. There are no above ground building codes, that I know of, that can withstand an F5 tornado; however, storm shelters have become more affordable and more easily installed. For heat and cold, we now have the ability to build well-insulated homes. For flood zones, codes could be required for houses to be adequately elevated. Everything that we do to protect homes and people from extreme weather saves lives, money and resources.
How will you work to facilitate the transition to renewable energy sources mandated by the Ready for 100 plan, which states that we will obtain 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2035 and was approved by the City Council in 2018? And, how will you work to ensure city environmental policy and the transition to renewable energy is just and equitable?
I have done a tremendous amount of research in this area. The vast majority of experts say that power derived from wind and sun is unreliable and all we have to do is look to Texas to see what happens during an extreme weather event that leads to the loss of lives. Experts also say that these forms of energy are just as damaging to the Earth as oil. Wind turbines do not have long lives, are very loud and kill a large number of birds. Wind turbines also pollute the Earth in their production and transportation to America from other countries. Solar panel production is resource-intensive and is also very polluting to the Earth. We also have to think about the recycling or the filling of our landfills with these products. Both sun and wind energy also need batteries to store the energy they produce. There is the pollution through the manufacturing and transporting process of these batteries, as well as the solar panels, which both in large part come from China which still have many coal burning factories. Storing all our energy in batteries also makes us dependent upon China and very vulnerable. We will no longer be energy independent while we are left with the waste of old batteries. When we shut down our oil and gas industry we will also be much poorer while we are enriching China and other countries. And if everything is run on batteries, all China would have to do is stop shipping them to cripple us. Imagine if all of our government and military vehicles were run on batteries. How would we defend ourselves? Many of our Industries also need a tremendous amount of power which currently sun and wind are unable to provide. Oklahoma is rich in natural gas which is clean burning and reliable. To abandon that form of fuel doesn’t make sense. In the end, until they improve upon the technology they have today, start producing the products we need in America so we are not dependent upon foreign sources or move to nuclear power like many European nations, I do not see how it is possible to move completely to wind and solar power without ruining the American economy, hurting Americans financially, endangering lives during extreme weather and making us vulnerable to attack from other nations. The only thing I could ethically do to try to keep a promise that was not fully researched before it was made is to continue to stay up-to-date on advancing technology to see if something promising can be utilized in Norman. When it comes to transitioning being just and equitable, Norman is a part of the state of Oklahoma. I could be wrong; but, I do not believe we have the authority, and I know we do not have the moral right, to force Norman citizens to change the fuel sources they are using in their cars and homes to something different that is allowed in the rest of Oklahoma. If Oklahoma, as a state, transitions to alternative fuel sources, I’m sure new homes would be required to be built with them in mind. The state may grandfather in old homes to continue using natural gas and electricity and/or provide tax incentives for those individuals in the middle income bracket to transition and free transitioning for the low income bracket. The same would probably be applied to automobiles. Given the cost of producing gasoline and electricity, I am not knowledgeable enough to know whether the price would go up or down. If it goes up, I’m sure that will incentivize more people to transition.