Voters in Edmond and Norman recently elected mayors whose priorities place "quality-of-life" issues ahead of "growth at any cost."
In a March 6 Norman primary, University of Oklahoma political science professor Cindy Rosenthal defeated two challengers for the post. And in Edmond's April 3 runoff, retired federal personnel manager Dan O'Neil carried all four city wards to defeat former state Republican Rep. Wayne Pettigrew.
Both Rosenthal and O'Neil were outspoken in opposing some major commercial development projects under way in their cities. The winners also were characterized by ethical and environmental issues that struck a chord with many constituents.
"Good city services, quality of life and how we get there" was the primary theme of Rosenthal's campaign. The central issue was "not whether, but how Norman will continue to grow and prosper," she said.
"We put a pittance in social service programs, only about $60,000 in total local dollars " and certainly much less than the city's $100,000 a year share to fund the Norman Economic Development Coalition. "¦ Our quality of life can decline in the face of poorly managed growth."
O'Neil said his "hot button" was the traffic issue. He co-founded the Edmond Neighborhood Alliance 12 years ago. The alliance, a grassroots citizens group of neighborhood associations, has been active in attempting to shield residential areas from:
" traffic congestion,
" lower property values and
" other ills associated with commercial encroachment.
"I'm not a politician or a lobbyist," he said. "Randall Turk