Thursday, early voting beings at 8 a.m. and continues until 6 p.m. at the Cleveland County Election Board, 641 E. Robinson, Suite 200 in Norman, and continues Friday during the same time and at the same location. Election Day is Tuesday, Feb. 12, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters will consider four contested city council races and whether to approve a $186 million Norman Public School bond. Running for Ward 1 is incumbent Kate Bierman and Shon Williamson-Jennings; Ward 3 features candidates Patrick Ahern, Richard Bailey and Alison Petrone; in Ward 7, incumbent Stephen Tyler Holman is running against Kimberly Blodgett and Kyle Hurley; and in the mayoral race, Ward 4 council member Bill Hickman and Ward 6 council member Breea Clark are competing, along with Evan Dunn.

It's vitally important that Normanites vote, either early or Feb. 12. The city council races are incredibly important -- this next council will hire a new city manager (the most powerful single position in the city, and the individual who is responsible for running Norman on a day-to-day basis) and a new city attorney.

They'll potentially implement a new stormwater utility, stormwater bond and transportation bond, as well as oversee the continued implementation of Norman Forward. City council members arguably have a greater impact on your daily life than any other elected officials, and they're certainly the most accessible.

The NPS bond would fund a wide variety of things throughout the district: storm shelters at every site that doesn't currently have one, maintenance for existing facilities, a new or renovated Dimensions Academy, educational materials, an expansion of the Nancy O'Brian Center for the Performing Arts and more. It's part of a long-term plan for the school district, and one we believe Norman voters should support wholeheartedly. Norman's present and future depend on a vibrant school district, and passing this school bond is one of the most significant ways Normanites can support their school district and the city's future.

Voter turnout for municipal elections is historically low -- in the last mayoral election in 2016, less than 10,000 people voted. Some city council races are decided by a handful of votes. We encourage all registered Norman voters to take the time either Thursday, Friday or Tuesday to vote and make their voice heard.

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