Christian Education

Former Councilor Thompson is running for mayor | Government

A former member of the Norman City Council threw his hat into the ring for the 2022 mayoral election.

“Midway” Bob Thompson, owner of Midway Deli, announced his run for mayor on Sunday.

Thompson, a 40-year-old Norman resident, served Ward 1 from 2005 to 2009, is chairman of the Charter Review Board, and has owned the deli for 36 years.

He joins incumbent Breea Clark, former city employee Larry Heikkila and local optometrist Dr Nicole Kish in the race for mayor.

If elected, Thompson intends to focus on non-partisan issues such as economic development, stormwater, transportation, homelessness and the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds, did he declare.

Partisan politics has distracted council’s attention from the critical issues facing residents, Thompson said.

“The orientation of our city has been distorted; local issues have taken a back seat, ”he said. “Norman is not a battleground for national politics. This is where we live, worship, work and play. We do not elect a mayor to make our city red or blue.

Thompson sat on the board when two policies passed during his tenure, the sales tax for public safety and the North Park University tax increase funding district, would later become contentious issues.

He supported the first public safety sales tax approved by voters in 2008, but has always opposed the North Park University tax increase funding district.

The public safety tax helps fund public safety improvements while the tax district offers sales tax-funded incentives to attract business development.

Voters at the time overwhelmingly supported the half-cent public safety sales tax.

It was designed to add more police and firefighters, implement crime prevention initiatives such as community policing, and fund capital projects. Voters made the tax permanent in 2014, but during protests against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, many residents opposed the expansion of law enforcement in subsequent meetings advice.

After council reallocated $ 865,000 from the Norman Police Department’s proposed budget increase in June 2020, the town lost a lawsuit against the Fraternal Order of the Police on the grounds that the council violated the law on open state meetings.

A local group, Unite Norman, formed against the council’s decision and attempted to remove the mayor and odd city councilors.

While Thompson declined to say how he would have voted on police funding in June 2020, he stressed the need for non-partisan deliberations and strong policy-making procedures to resolve issues – something he has said he had not seen emerge during the arguments over funding the police.

“I’m not going to try this question again,” he said. “I have no doubt that there was a conversation that had to take place. It should have taken place with a different approach which would have helped to solve the whole problem we were facing. We were able to ask important questions about our community.

“If we had a rationale for asking these questions, solving them, a method for asking ‘how do we get from what we don’t know to what we know, to what we think we should be doing – I think we do. are a lot less likely to have an atmosphere of conflict.

Thompson said the method he uses in business and in life to make a decision is to ask who benefits and who is harmed by a decision, and to look for alternative solutions to each problem. These questions are not partisan but guide “policy making” in a way that reflects community values, he said.

Thompson said he applied the same questions to the tax increase district, University North Park, when he voted against.

The district has become a high-conflict issue after homeowners have received taxes for infrastructure and other projects in the district since 2008. Residents who believed that a council-approved contract in 2019 that ended the tax district favored development owners above the taxpayer and filed a petition in January 2020.

It failed a court challenge, but became the subject of city council debates leading up to the February 2020 election.

Thompson opposed the tax district in large part because tax districts are designed to stimulate development in disaster areas of the city – places that won’t improve without a tax subsidy to attract growth.

Real estate along Interstate 35, he said, would have grown without the subsidy.

The Charter Review Commission, of which Thompson is the chair, asked the council to consider voter approval for the sales tax districts, even though the commission did not reach a unanimous recommendation. Thompson agreed with the committee’s unanimous opinion that municipal elections should not be partisan.

Thompson said he decided to run for a job because he had time with a well-established business and now that his kids are grown up. He graduated from Oak Hills Bible College in Minnesota with the intention of entering the field of Christian education, but chose to pursue a career in business after moving to Norman.

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