Citizens in Norman’s Ward 3 will head back to the polls April 2 to decide on a City Council member. Voters will choose between candidates Richard Bailey and Alison A. Petrone.
A lawyer and small business owner, Alison Petrone said she had been approached in the past to run for City Council, but it hadn’t been possible. She said that, recently, she felt City Hall was prioritizing special interests over citizens and that residents were not being heard.
“I want to serve my community. I want to be able to be a voice,” Petrone said. “After being asked again, I said, ‘You know what? This is the right time.'”
Richard Bailey has 30 years of experience in business management. He has been involved with the City Council over the past few years as chairman of the Norman Seniors Association. He said his background helped him identify certain issues within the city. Once he heard that Robert Castleberry, the Ward 3 incumbent, had decided not to run for reelection, Bailey resolved to campaign for the seat.
“Just seeing how the city is operating, I’ve seen some opportunities to improve it, especially in economic development areas,” he said.
Ward 3 covers the west side of Norman and is mostly residential. It extends from Indian Hills Road to 72nd Avenue N.W. It extends east to I-35.
Alison A. Petrone
Occupation: Attorney and small-business owner
Platform: Petrone hopes to increase Norman’s number of ADA-accessible public spaces.
“One of the things that I’m very interested in is getting our city up to ADA-accessible standards,” she said. “None of our city parks or the schoolyards are accessible — no swings — and having things like that is really important.”
She would also like to look at the city’s budget to see if there is anything that can be done to help more vulnerable populations like the homeless or the hungry. Hand in hand with that is her focus on quality of life issues.
“If the City of Norman is prioritizing quality of life issues, then, naturally, the byproduct of that is economic stimulation,” Petrone said. “And people will move here that want to set up shop here. Businesses will want to come here if we’re prioritizing people.”
Environmental issues — like air and water quality — and issues of domestic violence are also things Petrone would like to focus on.
What’s the most important issue you want to address?: “When we talk about building an inclusive community, it can’t just be a motto we don’t do anything about,” she said. “We’re looking and prioritizing how we spend our money to actually reach people, and say, “How can we make your life better?'”
What qualifies you to be on City Council?: Petrone is new to running for office, but she has a political background. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a juris doctorate from OU College of Law. She has also been a small-business owner for over a decade.
“Right now I’m in real estate, so I understand our property values and kind of the economic side,” she said.
Petrone also said that being a mom and living in Norman for so long adds to her qualifications.
“Whatever life experience you bring is applicable. That’s the thing about being in public service,” said Petrone. “So yeah, my résumé is there, but life experience is just as important.”
Occupation: Retired telecommunication, computer and internet professional
Platform: Bailey said Norman is facing issues with “managing the big business of the city,” and he believes his past career has prepared him to deal with it.
He also said Norman needs to refocus its economic development. He wants to bring in companies that support “export-oriented jobs,” which he says create products that have appeal outside of Norman.
“Those jobs tend to be a little higher paying,” Bailey said.
“Over time, we can attract those companies in, and create an environment with the companies we have,” he explained. “That will build the pace in Norman for growth that will be effective.”
Building a top-notch senior center is also something Bailey advocates for.
What’s the most important issue you want to address?: Bailey said the biggest issue Norman is facing is its budget.
“It has a short-term problem, which hopefully will get solved with the reapportionment of sales tax from the TIF,” he said. “But it also has a longer-term structural problem, and we need to do a significant amount of work over the next couple or three years.”
What qualifies you to be on City Council?: Bailey is new to politics, but has served as Chairman of the Norman Seniors Association, which involved him in council meetings. He also has over 30 years of experience in business management, something he says gives him an edge.
“The current City Council, most of them have experience in smaller businesses, not much in big business management. I just believe that the qualifications with the skill set I have will be a big benefit,” Bailey said. “I have extensive experience in business management, and the city of Norman is a big business.”
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