Bree Montoya
Norman City Council candidate Bree Montoya reacts during a candidate forum held by the Norman chapter of the League of Women Voters on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. (Michael Duncan)

Challenger Bree Montoya defeated controversial incumbent Councilman Kelly Lynn on Tuesday to represent Ward 3 on the Norman City Council. Meanwhile, Ward 5 Councilman Rachar Tortorello was pushed into an April 4 runoff against Michael Nash, the man he ousted from office in 2021.

With all precincts reporting, Montoya received 53.19 percent of the vote to oust Lynn after only one term in office. All election results listed on the Oklahoma State Election Board website are unofficial until they are certified by the board.

“Thank you to Kelly Lynn for his service to our community,” Montoya said in a text message to NonDoc. “I look forward to serving our community in a positively professional manner.”

A divisive figure, Lynn advocated for conservative policies for the two years he was on the Norman City Council, including arguing against city action on reducing homelessness and giving more money to Norman police. In his 2021 election campaign, Lynn had been supported by members of Unite Norman, a group that formed after the City Council voted to redirect funds away from a proposed increase to the Norman Police Department’s budget.

Less than a year into holding office, Lynn made headlines following a bar fight with a 66-year-old woman. Lynn found himself mired in more controversy in the weeks before Tuesday’s election when Norman’s city attorney sent a legal memorandum questioning Lynn’s eligibility to remain councilman after Lynn had been sworn into a second office as the municipal judge in Wewoka. State law prohibits officials from holding two offices at the same time, but Lynn’s attorneys argued that the law did not apply to his situation.

Montoya is a certified public accountant. Her election to represent northwest Norman on the City Council will be her first stint in political office. Montoya is also the former business manager of the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, and she has served on boards for the Norman Music Festival and the Norman Arts Council.

Two other city council seats were up for election Tuesday.

Austin Ball won election by just 36 votes of the 840 ballots cast to represent Ward 1. His opponent, incumbent Councilwoman Brandi Studley, vacated her seat and stopped pursuing her candidacy in January.

Rachar Tortorello and Michael Nash will go to an April 4 runoff for the Ward 5 seat in far east Norman. They garnered 40.02 percent and 34.49 percent of the vote, respectively, but fell short of the 50 percent needed to win outright. Their other opponent, Cindi Tuccillo, received 25.5 percent of the 2,424 total votes cast.

Norman Public Schools elections

Two Norman Public Schools bond proposals totaling about $344 million also passed Tuesday night, with around 68 percent support for Proposition 1 and 73 percent support for Proposition 2.

With the bonds passing, most school sites in Norman will see construction projects renovating or improving facilities.

The big item in the bond proposals is a new stand-alone facility for an Oklahoma Aviation Academy at Max Westheimer Airport. The construction will help NPS develop a budding aviation program for students in the district.

Annette Price and Kathleen Kennedy will go to an April 4 runoff for Office 3 of the NPS Board of Education. The two garnered 41.99 percent of the vote and 28.5 percent of the vote, respectively, beating Gary Barksdale and Kini Vaughn.

“I look forward to continuing to fight for the kids of Norman Public Schools,” Price said in a statement emailed to media. “Our school board needs an experienced education leader who will step up and safeguard the vital resources we have set aside for our kids. We must ensure teachers and staff feel respected and valued in order to maintain the reputation of a top-tier school district.”