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Ward 5 Councilmember-elect Rarchar Tortorello decries local polarization, reaffirms police support in first town hall

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Ward 5 Councilmember-elect Rarchar Tortorello addressed the audience at his July 1 town hall. 

Ward 5 Councilmember-elect Rarchar Tortorello hosted his first town hall meeting Thursday evening at CrossPointe Church.

Tortorello, an Air Force veteran and Unite Norman-endorsed candidate, won the Ward 5 city council seat in February, beating the Ward 5 incumbent Michael Nash by a vote of 51.7 percent. His campaign prioritized additional funding for the Norman Police Department and unity and transparency in Norman city politics. 

In the meeting, he addressed Ward 5’s concerns about zoning issues, political polarization and police patrol numbers.

“Hopefully we can all move forward today to find that healing of the political divide,” Tortorello said. 

A young constituent later asked about his commitment to depolarization, citing Tortorello’s Facebook posts as evidence to the contrary. She said his account often “contests left-leaning views” and condemns the “increasingly liberal status quo of politics in the U.S.”  

“It’s a good question,” Tortorello said. “I do have freedom of speech, as a politician, and I certainly look at what I say. … I don’t want to fight with anybody here. Personally, if I disagree with somebody, it’s mostly on policy.”

Another constituent asked Tortorello to denounce the notion that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, a claim he has made in the past on social media.

“He lost. … Mr. Biden is now the president — end of story,” Tortorello said.

Tortorello also addressed his attendance at Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in January that preceded the Capitol insurrection. He said he went for the president and was in his hotel room during the insurrection. He mentioned he had veritable proof, but did not show audience members during the town hall.

When asked by a constituent about additional police funding, Tortorello urged Ward 5 voters to utilize the department’s services more often in emergencies. 

“If you have an issue dial 911,” Tortorello said.

Tortorello attended the city’s June 8 budget meeting to speak against reducing a police budget increase. The council ultimately took money from the general fund to pay for an unarmed, non-police mobile crisis response team. 

Tortorello ended the town hall encouraging his constituents to reach out to him as often as possible. Questions about Ward 5 can be sent through his website.

Quinn Daugherty is an incoming professional writing junior and a junior news reporter for The Daily.

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