Group gains enough signatures to recall Oklahoma mayor who slashed police budget

NORMAN, Okla. — A group that launched an effort to oust an Oklahoma mayor who voted in June to slash police department funding has claimed to have gathered enough signatures on its recall petition, according to a report.

Norman Mayor Breaa Clark, a Democrat, did not comment Friday on the effort to force her recall in a vote in January, the Oklahoman reported.

A group called Unite Norman spent weeks gathering signatures on the recall petition.

The deadline for filing the petition was Friday, the paper reported. The group said it gathering signatures from 20,560 Norman voters. They needed at least 18,124.

“What we just did was historic,” Unite Norman co-founder Russell Smith told supporters outside City Hall.

“It’s about the issues here in this town,” he said. “It’s about taking our town back. It’s about not having radicals in power. It’s about centering the shift.”

He also said about 30 percent of those signing the petition were Democrats, so it wasn’t simply Republicans trying to oust the mayor.

The signatures were submitted to Norman City Clerk Brenda Hall for verification. She has 30 days to verify the signatures. A recall election looms in January if enough signatures are verified.

The paper reported that Clark was withholding comment until the signatures were verified, according to the Oklahoman

“In the meantime, I will continue to focus on doing my job instead of worrying about losing my job,” she said.

At one point, Smith and co-founder Sassan Moghadam had asked the city to extend Friday’s deadline by 10 days, claiming the group’s effort to collect enough signatures was hindered by threats, harassment and “criminal fraud.” But apparently the additional time was unnecessary.

“We’re ready for the mayor to accept the will of the people and step down,” Moghadam said. “Clearly the people have spoken and she’s not their choice.”

For two months, advocates of the recall collected petition signatures on street corners with signs urging passersby to support police. Volunteer and paid petitioners also knocked on doors, organizers said. The group has run newspaper ads saying “Enough is Enough!” and distributed mailers asking residents to sign the petition if they are “tired of the radical agenda being pushed by Norman City Councilors.”

The group kicked off it’s recall campaign in June after Clark and the eight-member council voted to reallocate $865,000 from the police department’s proposed $31 million budget and “not upholding the will of the people.”

The recall effort also targeted four members of the Norman City Council, including one who has since resigned

Of the other three, Unite Norman said it had enough signatures to recall one City Council member, Alison Petrone, but not the other two, Kate Bierman and Stephen Holman.

The group was also angry with Clark over her order requiring that masks be worn in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, FOX reported.


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