In this month’s Norman Ward 3 City Council election, the incumbent is facing two challengers with ties to a group that initiated a demand for her removal last year.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Alison Petrone is being challenged by Kelly Lynn, a current Oklahoma National Guardsman, and Sam Tally, an attorney and co-owner of Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails. Both have been involved with Unite Norman, a group formed after the Norman City Council’s decision to redirect more than $850,000 of a planned increase for the Norman Police Department budget to other city services.
In response, Unite Norman circulated petitions to recall Petrone, Norman Mayor Breea Clark and three other council members.
After the city clerk certified a valid number of signatures to trigger Petrone’s recall, she filed a lawsuit in September alleging fraudulent signature gathering practices and challenging the city’s recall requirements. On Jan. 27, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the petition invalid.
The candidates for Norman Ward 3 are listed below in alphabetical order, with information derived from publicly available sources. Election Day is set for Tuesday, Feb. 9, and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is today.
If no candidate receives a majority of votes, a municipal runoff election will be held April 6 between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in the ward.
Profession/background: Lynn joined the Army National Guard in 2007 and is currently a member of the Oklahoma National Guard. He was deployed in 2017 to a front-line combat unit in Afghanistan, according to his campaign website, and has received a Meritorious Service Medal.
He graduated from Oklahoma City University Law School in 2013 and has a law practice in Norman.
Media reported recently that Lynn accepted a plea deal for a three-year-deferred sentence for possession and distribution of a controlled substance — a felony offense — in 1998. Candidates are required to acknowledge on the candidate filing form if they have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to a felony in the U.S. and if there is an outstanding warrant for their arrest. Lynn checked “no” on the form, according to his candidacy declaration.
Kelly told The Norman Transcript that the case had been dismissed and expunged from his record and that his attorney had been disbarred soon after. The case does not appear in the county clerk’s digital records, the Transcript reported.
“What part was I supposed to disclose? That was dismissed, it was expunged and my attorney got disbarred,” Lynn told The Transcript. “I have no problems talking about any of this. I was barely 18 at the time. I was just a knuckle-headed kid after my dad died. He died of cancer when I was 13 and [my brother and I] did all kinds of ignorant stuff and hung around the wrong people. That’s what that situation was. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Platform: On his campaign website, Lynn said he has always followed state and national politics and recently started following local government as well.
“Then I saw the total mess in our city government, and I felt really ashamed,” he wrote. “I just hadn’t paid attention to local government. I wasn’t the only one, and now we’ve got the results to show for it.”
He said on his website that the Norman city government has been “taken over by a radical clique” and that he is running to bring common sense back to the City Council.
His website states he will “stand up for common sense,” “work with, not against, local businesses,” and “support our police, not defund them.”
Lynn has been endorsed by Unite Norman and the Norman chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, according to a mailer posted online.
Alison Petrone (Incumbent)
Profession/background: Petrone won her seat on the council in 2019 and is now running for her second term. She currently serves on the Council Oversight Committee and the Community Planning and Transportation Committee.
Petrone moved to Norman for college and has lived there for 22 years. She studied political science at OU and went on to earn a law degree. A practicing lawyer, she and her husband also own a real estate brokerage.
Platform: Petrone told the Norman Transcript that she has remained adamant that the city’s business growth policies should benefit Norman residents, locally owned businesses and startups. She plans on continuing those efforts. She also said she wants to see a “restoration of neighborly discourse.”
Petrone’s campaign website says her top achievements in office include improving Norman’s public transportation, maintaining health care access in the city, developing plans for a senior center and improving the accessibility of Norman parks. Petrone’s re-election campaign is being supported by Rep. Jacob Rosecrants (D-Norman).
Profession/background: Talley is a co-owner of Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails on Main Street in Norman. As a third-generation Normanite, Talley has served on boards of the Norman Regional Health Foundation, Young Life Norman and in Leadership Norman. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Oklahoma and also works as an attorney at the Talley Turner Stice & Bertman law firm in Norman.
Platform: In a campaign YouTube video, Talley said his goals are to rebuild trust in the City Council through transparency and citizen engagement. He said in his video that the City Council needs to solve some major revenue issues just to balance the budget.
Talley’s website lists funding public safety, addressing homelessness and economic development as his top issues. He wants to increase the pay of Norman police officers and increase the presence of School Resource Officers in Norman.
Regarding homelessness, he writes, “We will need to approach our homeless population, much like we address addiction in the court system – one case at a time- one person at a time. And we must be committed to a long term process.”
One of his economic development goals is to attract employers who pay a living wage to Norman. Talley has distributed campaign fliers touting endorsements from Toby Keith, Bob Stoops and Barry Switzer.