Whether you were for against the recent bond package, the silver lining in Tuesday’s election was the high turnout in Norman.
Voter engagement was strong for the Norman GO Bond 2020 election, which drew a larger turnout than our recent special and other citywide elections.
Participation on four bond proposals totaled more than 22,000 voters, nearly double compared to the Norman Forward Sales Tax election in 2015 and the mayoral race in 2019.
Most in Norman want to help people with needs, not wants. Sometimes, it is human nature to take things for granted.
Norman has a long track record of supporting city government and schools. But, from time to time, the city or the school board take for granted that voters will support spending and borrowing without enough explanation — without doing enough due diligence to help the public understand what and why things are being requested.
Proposition 1 would have supplemented underfunded Norman Forward projects, including a long-awaited senior center. Proposition 2 would have secured funding for homeless resource facilities. Proposition 3 was to complete funding for municipal projects, and Proposition 4 for pandemic-related economic development.
Surprisingly, Tuesday voters turned down all four propositions.
In a divided Norman, the homeless bond proposal still nearly passed with 11,212 who voted for it and 11,579 voted against it out of 22,791 ballots cast.
While this the closest of the four propositions, the “no” votes from the east side and outlying areas were overwhelming — as high as 88% in a precinct. If a future bone were thrown to Ward 5, residents there might be more inclined to vote “yes” in general.
We know street homelessness is an issue in Ward 6 that needs to be addressed.
Go back to the drawing board. The ballot language mentioned a comprehensive housing/homeless study to be undertaken by the city. Promotional material on the GO Bond website referenced ongoing studies on homelessness and housing affordability.
The city must work more with nonprofit stakeholders to find out best solution to homelessness in Norman.
We hope further study will lead to public conversations to figure out any gaps. Do the studies, publish the results and specify how the more intensive homeless folks will be served.
If the city is fully transparent about a comprehensive, prioritized homeless plan with community input, Norman would fund it.
The Norman Transcript Editorial Board includes Publisher Mark Millsap, Editor Rob Collins and guest members Brandi Coyner, Keith Gaddie, Kathy Haney, Marc Nuttle and Michael Ridgeway. For comments or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.