By KaraLee Langford and Miranda Vondale Gaylord News
NORMAN – Citizens rallied Tuesday in the lobby of the Norman Municipal Court in support of City Council candidate Sean Boyd. But events quickly escalated during the meeting when council members unexpectedly began opposing his candidacy.
Boyd’s appointment by the council was being considered because of the death of council member David Perry, Ward 2, who died two months after winning his election.
Councilwomen Elizabeth Foreman, Ward 6, and Kate Bierman, Ward 1, indicated their opposition to Boyd, who would have served the remainder of Perry’s term.
“I don’t feel the committee put the best applicant forward.” said Foreman. Bierman added that she had “fundamental concerns on how the committee made their decision.”
Despite the large group of Boyd supporters, Mayor Breea Clark refused to allow comment from the public during the council’s discussion, which drew heated criticism from members of Unite Norman, a group that has led an effort to recall council members but failed in its effort to collect enough signatures for a recall the election of Clark.
The group’s objective is to “bring our city closer to center and try to remove radical council members ... from our leadership,” Russell Smith said, co-founder of Unite Norman. “We respect anyone who is Democrat or Republican ... Unite Norman’s purpose is to rid the radicals so we can unite the city again.”
As Boyd was offered a chance to speak on his behalf, members of Unite Norman shouted, “respect the process!” Their chant referred to the council-appointed ward selection committee that considered applications before mak- ing the recommendation of Boyd in a 3-2 vote. Two members of that committee subsequently withdrew their support of Boyd before the council meeting.
Boyd apologized to Perry’s family and asked the council for the opportunity to serve the Norman community, thanking them for their service.
Regardless, Councilwoman Lee Hall, Ward 4, said she was already disturbed at the lack of consensus by the council in support of Boyd.
“Clearly we need to do a better job of standardizing the process and communicating expectations and having written guidelines put up and all future committees are operating on the same set of expectations and guidelines,” said Hall.
After Boyd was not voted into council, Unite Norman members began yelling obscenities, calling the council members cowards, gutless, and tyrants.
“This is a city council that doesn’t use any rules,” Smith said. “They created the rules, and then when it didn’t go their way, when the selection committee chose a moderate, they proved that they don’t want moderation, they want radicalists.”
Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.