Unite Norman Turns In Petition To Recall 2nd City Councilor

Thursday, August 13th 2020, 9:39 pm

NORMAN, Okla. -

In a historic effort, the group Unite Norman turned in another petition to recall a second city councilor.

City staff reported there has never been a recall effort this large. 

The completed petitions have been filed for Ward 5 Sereta Wilson and Ward 3 Alison Petrone. 

Those signatures still need to be verified, and city staff will have 30 days to do so.

Unite Norman stated a variety of reasons for their efforts to recall Petrone. They claim the conscious member is anti-business and cut the proposed police budget by $865,000 after various Black Lives Matter rallies across the metro.

"Her vote to defund the police and strip valuable resources from Norman public safety. The citizens in her own ward are choosing to recall her,” said Unite Norman founder Russell Smith. “How do you work on a budget for five or six months, then at three in the morning they acquiesce to people screaming to cut the budget that had been worked on and consulted with experts on?"

News 9 reached out to council member Alison Petrone.

Wednesday night, she discovered she had COVID-19, but wanted to send a statement to News 9 concerning the recall. 

"I will continue to represent the many diverse voices of Ward 3, and meaningfully deliberate public policy, irrespective of the signature drive,” Petrone said. I look forward to a return of amicability in our community and will do my part as a member of City Council to restore our previously enjoyed neighborly relations.”

As for council member Sereta Wilson, she stepped down after moving outside of her Ward.

She said COVID-19 created complications for her family, they needed to relocate, and she had to give up her seat.

Wilson said she is proud of what the council accomplished together.

While they have been called radical, she said the majority of council took a moderate stance against radical police budget cuts.

Rather than approve a $4.5 million cut, proposed by former member Alex Scott, they moved less than a million dollars from police to social programs directed towards community outreach.

Wilson stands by the council’s decisions. Because she stepped down amid a recall, she is barred from running for office for up to a year. However, she said she did not plan on running anyway.

“The frustrations and difference of opinion are going to bubble up during this trying time. Everybody has a different opinion on how to deal with this situation,” said Wilson. 

Unite Norman did seek an extension to gather signatures. However, the city charter does not provide for that.

In a last-ditch effort, Unite Norman confirmed they did hire petition gatherers. They said their workers and volunteers have been harassed, and that was one reason for the extension request.

“It's hard to reach this many. We have been hampered by some harassment and threats,” said Smith.

He said he has called upon council to condemn acts of aggression made in reference to recall efforts. 

Wilson said she has tough skin, but the harassment has found her too. She said both she and other members of city council have been harassed. 

“One of the council members has children that are being affected by this. This is trickling down to her kids,” Wilson said. “Poor Breea is getting knocked around for listening to an eagle scout talk about 16-year old's voting.”

Mayor Breea Clark told News 9 that she believes the group has also gained enough signatures to recall her.

That announcement could come Friday at a press conference by Unite Norman.