The race for Norman City Council Ward 2, which wouldn’t normally have an election this year, was triggered by the unexpected passing of City Councilman David Perry, who had been sworn into the council just two months prior. Three candidates are running for the seat after a fourth recently withdrew.
Perry died suddenly in his home on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, at the age of 60, according to his obituary in The Norman Transcript. He won his seat by defeating candidates Matthew Salcido and Andrew Tiffany in the February, 2020 election.
Current Ward 2 councilmember Joe Carter, who was appointed in October to take Perry’s place, is not seeking election.
The candidates for Ward 2 are John Argo, Matt McGarry and Jay Wendorff. You can read more about them below.
Another candidate, Edward Maguire, told Norman City Clerk Brenda Hall that he is withdrawing from the race “for personal reasons,” although, because of the late date, his name will still be on the ballot.
“He wouldn’t be able to serve if elected,” Hall told NonDoc. “We’ve done everything we can to get the word out to let the citizens know that they would be wasting a vote if they voted for him.”
The remaining candidates are listed below in alphabetical order, with information derived from publicly available sources. Election Day is set for Tuesday, Feb. 9.
If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, a municipal run-off will be held on April 6 between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in each Ward.
Profession/background: Argo was born in Oklahoma City and has been a Norman resident for more than 65 years. He owns and operates a metalwork business. He has done volunteer work with St Thomas More Catholic Church, Norman Public Schools, Red Cross of Norman and Rebuilding Together of Oklahoma City.
He ran for the Democratic nomination in Oklahoma’s Congressional District 4 in 2020, but lost in the primary.
Platform: In a Q&A with The Norman Transcript, Agro said he supports expanding the city’s public transportation. He also wants to improve the process of dropping off and picking up students from Norman City Public Schools. When social interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic becomes safe, Agro said he is seeking to create a Taste of Ward 2 event where local restaurants can “show off what they have to offer.”
In a questionnaire posted by Vote 411, Argo listed three main policy priorities. First, he wants to help businesses recover from not only the COVID-19 pandemic but also from the effects of road projects and the damage caused by the 2020 ice storm. Second, he aims to improve the process of dropping off and picking up students from Norman City Public Schools and alleviate the accompanying traffic congestion. Finally, he wants to replant trees to replace the ones lost in last year’s ice storm.
Profession/background: Since 2015, McGarry has been the Russian language program coordinator at the University of Oklahoma, where he teaches Russian languages and Russian literature. He previously studied at the University of Kansas and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In his bio on the OU website, he says that before he decided to study Russian, he aspired to be a college football coach, and he still does some coaching on the side.
Of his teaching work, he writes, “My primary goal as a teacher of language and literature is to empower students to actively use the skills they are developing so as to become, as Hayden White frequently writes in his work, ‘agents rather than patients of history.'”
He is running for public officer for the first time. He told the The Norman Transcript that he wants to carry on Perry’s legacy in Ward 2.
Platform: McGarry said in a Q&A with The Norman Transcript that he wants to assist Ward 2 invest in the quality of life and community building projects. For McGarry, that includes infrastructure projects for the preservation of tree canopies, plotting innovative solutions for the city’s stormwater problems, universal broadband access and expanding and developing new bike lanes and paths.
On his campaign website, he also mentions wanting to build the Norman senior center, preserve the city’s downtown district and make Norman more inclusive for everyone, including the homeless, those with special needs, the elderly and the formerly incarcerated.
Profession/background: Wendorff grew up in Norman and was the 1992 homecoming king at Norman High. He later studied Physical therapy at OU and has worked as a physical therapist in Norman for 22 years, mainly in home health for the elderly, according to his campaign website.
His family attends Antioch Church.
Platform: On his campaign website, Wendorff said he is running because of the “city’s stance against the police department” and the “growing reputation as being resistant to business development.” He has been endorsed by 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. The group circulated petitions to recall Norman Mayor Breea Clark and other council members in response to the decision.
Wendorff said in a questionnaire posted on Vote 411 that the city needs to address issues with storm water and the tree canopy. He also expressed support for public transportation. He says that the city needs to continue to support local businesses while being open to bringing more business partners to Norman.