Incumbent Norman City Councilmember and architect Matt Peacock will face off against pharmaceutical salesman Scott Dixon for the Ward 8 seat in the upcoming election on Feb. 8.
The Daily interviewed both candidates on their platforms, background and goals to be voted on in the municipal election on Feb. 8. If no candidate receives a majority of all the votes cast at the municipal election, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will stand in a municipal runoff on April 5.
Peacock served in the Ward 8 position last year and previously worked with the Norman Arts Council and as a city planning commissioner. According to his campaign website, Peacock graduated from the Nature Conservancy's Leadership Academy, the Citizen's Police Academy, Leadership Norman, the Leadership Exchange Academy and is currently in classes of Leadership Oklahoma City and Leadership Oklahoma. He also received recognition for his efforts and was awarded a Journal Record 40 Under 40, an honor to young professionals in the state of Oklahoma.
Focusing on growth, sustainability and economic experiences, Peacock said he is running for the Ward 8 position again to make Norman better “not only for my kids, but all the other kids in Norman.”
“The impacts that I have on council, good or bad, (the kids) are going to be the direct beneficiaries of that,” Peacock said. “Kind of like I said in my opening statement, (I’m) really just trying to create a city that's got the opportunities for young people, so when they become of age, they have a reason to stay in Norman and they don't want to just go look and see what else is bigger and better out there.”
Peacock said one of his main goals this year is to make Norman's environment more pedestrian-friendly. Focusing on “responsible and sustainable development practices” and “historic preservation,” Peacock plans to make Norman “more walkable and less car-centric.”
As a local small business owner, Peacock said he is “a champion for pro-business” and plans to help with local job initiatives, which he said will help Norman residents find jobs that build entrepreneurship and trade skills.
Peacock is also a large proponent of the Norman arts district and said it is due to events such as the Norman Music Fest, the Second Friday Artwalk and Jazz in June that Norman has “one of the greatest experience economies in the entire state.” As a Ward 8 council member and architect, he plans to continue supporting these events that bring revenue to the city.
“I know that our city is only as good as kind of the historical fabric that we have,” Peacock said. “That kind of leaning on historic preservation is gonna be a big part of my platform for sure. Trying to build on the story we have in Norman and not recreate it or take away from it.”
Through his experiences in various boards and on the council itself, Peacock said he feels like he has “a leg up when it comes to institutional knowledge and relationships.”
“I really feel like (my involvements) kind of give me the experiences and the relationships in places to bridge that divide that I was talking about earlier (which was trying) to speak to a wide cross-section of people and try to deliver a unifying message,” Peacock said.
Between him and his opponent, Peacock said he will “bring more to the table,” especially through experience in relationships and in the city council itself.
“I've got a lot of experience in servant leadership and from seeing (Dixon’s) resume, I don't think he's ever served on a board,” Peacock said. “He's never been involved with municipal government. The most he had done was serve on the board of his church. … So, I really do feel like I've got a leg up when it comes to institutional knowledge and relationships.”
OU alumnus Scott Dixon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in construction science and a master’s degree in energy management from Oklahoma City University, according to his campaign website. He has spent the past 15 years in oilfield services and recently transitioned into pharmaceutical sales.
Prior to running for City Council, Dixon wrote on his website he was an assistant Cub Scout leader, a soccer coach and a flag football coach. He has served on the Daycare Board, Missions Committee and Board of Trustees at McFarlin Memorial Methodist Church. He currently attends Victory Family Church with his wife and two children.
“(There was) some point when my circle, just my friends and (I), we’re all talking about what's going on and after I heard the phrase, ‘somebody should do something, somebody should run,’ I just thought, you know what? I'm somebody. I'll do it,” Dixon said. “Norman's worth it. Norman's worth my time and effort. It just is. This is really not my comfort zone, but we're gonna give it a go.”
If elected to Ward 8, Dixon plans to finish Norman FORWARD projects, create crosswalks in the city, establish plans to prevent and help with the homeless, build up Norman businesses and developments, and create more focus on programs for roads, city water, trash, public safety and generating revenue.
“I know I don't have the answers to everything, but I'm willing to kind of roll the sleeves up and get busy and try to find solutions. (I’ll) bring stakeholders together (and) find a good solution for every issue,” Dixon said.
One of the issues Dixon noticed pertinent to businesses in Norman occurred when he was a trustee at McFarlin Methodist Church. They were adding on to the children's area and the local building inspector told them they had to install fire sprinklers in the sanctuary. Dixon said the national fire code and the inspector agreed they were not necessary, but wanted to have the sprinklers anyway, resulting in “more time and more money paying our architect to argue over just silly things that the inspector knew we weren't legally required to do,” which makes it difficult to “do business in Norman.”
“I like to really work with the city manager how to just make things easier and how the department's started trying to fight everybody all the time,” Dixon said. “Let's just kind of work with everybody.”
Dixon additionally plans to provide the Norman Police Department with more funds, citing a lack of police officers on duty some days.
The Norman FORWARD projects, which are citizen-initiated proposals for projects around Norman, also play a role in Dixon’s goals as a city council member.
“(The projects) would not only be great for our kids, but also help with drawing people into town for the facilities, so we’ll be able to host tournaments and so we'll be able to have people come in from out of town and spend money on hotels, restaurants, that kind of stuff that we can't do right now,” Dixon said. “I mean, goodness, our basketball facility right now for the Optimist (Club) is a World War II hangar. It's ridiculous. Our kids deserve better. Norman deserves better.”
Dixon said, if elected, he will “specifically advocate for Ward 8 and Ward 8 wants and needs.” He wrote in an email to The Daily that depending on the outbreak of COVID-19, he will have a town hall either virtual or in-person every month, while “my opponent has had zero in 18 months.”
“I won't spend my time focused on Ward 4 issues,” Dixon said. “They have their own advocate and their own councilperson. So that's what I'll do that will be different because I will focus on Ward 8 issues.”
Mayoral and city council elections will take place Tuesday, Feb. 8. In-person absentee voting takes place Thursday and Friday, Feb. 3-4. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the runoff election will take place Tuesday, April 5. For more information on where, when and how to vote, visit the Cleveland County Election Board website.
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