Recently the Feldman Foundation Spoke with Traci about her race, her Libertarianisim, and the changes she would like to see for her ward.
Let’s start out with a few easy questions, Traci. When did you first join the Libertarian Party and why?
Response: Well I first joined the Libertarian Party when it became an option in Oklahoma, just a few months ago, after our statewide ballot victory. I joined because I’ve always been a libertarian at heart and I was introduced to the Liberty Movement by Ron Paul in 2012.
What made you decide to run for local office?
Response: I wanted to run for local office because I felt that my freedom-oriented ideas needed to be put into a policy setting. I wanted to be the vehicle with which those ideas were pushed and I’ve always kind of wanted to be a politician.
So, it’s my understanding that you had to overcome a huge obstacle just to keep your name on the ballot in February. Ward 7 candidate and council incumbent Stephen Tyler Holman challenged your candidacy, saying that you would not meet the city charter provision of having been registered in Norman for six months at the time of the February 14th election.
You countered that the election should have been slated for April per provisions for filing outlined in the city charter, which were not amended last April when several other charter amendments were approved by voters.
You also stated that, “if the city truly wanted their elections to be compliant with both state and city law, they should have amended the charter.”
You obviously had a compelling argument, since you announced in December that your campaign would move forward and that you would be on the ballot. How did that victory make you feel?
Response: It was quite the relieving victory. The incumbent texted me personally and said that he was going to move forward with the challenge and it created a very stressful situation for a couple weeks right during finals time and before Christmas that I’d have to fight for my ballot access. But it was a very large relief when the County Election Board stated that they would rule in favor of inclusivity over exclusivity on this ballot issue.
A Norman resident with the online username NormanBorn had this to say regarding the legitimacy of election dates set by the city:
Norman Born (Dec 21, 2016)
“The City Council has a long history of election-scheduling mischief; i.e., of scheduling elections during times when special interests and activists have a disproportionate influence on election outcomes. The result of such chicanery is that elections are not representative of the mainstream of Norman’s citizens, and thus undemocratic. So, what are we to do? It’s simple: Demand that all City (and County) elections are held at the regular time - in November when turnout will be higher, thereby promoting a more legitimate outcome.”
Do you agree with this sentiment? Why or why not?
Response: Well not necessarily in November for all elections; however, the fact is that the city council did set this election date illegally with the interest of protecting incumbents. We need to oppose any illegal election setting. The city charter in Norman specifically states that the filing deadline needs to be in January and in odd number of years, this will need to be an April or September election, and they’ve failed to do that. I believe that they should set the election dates at the legal date in compliance with both the federal, state and municipal law.
Let’s talk for a moment about a source of controversy within the Council’s agenda. Since 2015, Norman’s financial committee has been considering purchasing a BearCat, which is an armored vehicle that has gun ports, a battering ram, and capability to deliver gas.
On Sunday, you made a statement on your campaign’s FaceBook page saying, “Let it be on record that I vehemently oppose the militarization of police forces, especially in our Norman community. There is no need for the Norman Police Department to possess military grade vehicles to patrol our streets. We need to look at increasing citizen oversight and transparency within all branches of government, and our police force is no exception.”
Fellow opponents feel the vehicle could hurt relations between the community and the police force. But the Norman Police Department says the vehicle’s purpose is not for intimidation and is not a military vehicle. Instead they are calling it a life-saving machine, reminding citizens of a hostage situation in Norman in 2014. They claim that in that situation, the BearCat would have kept police officers and hostages safer during the evacuation.
What are your thoughts on this rationalization?
Response: Well, see, this is a onetime thing that the situation did resolve itself in a manner that was acceptable. Fact is that that was the only justification that the police had for possessing this in the entire history of Norman and it didn’t even really need to have it in that situation either. There isn’t really a need to possess this type of vehicle and the propensity for the police force to use this vastly outweighs any marginal need for them to possess it in the first place. It is a tool that they can misuse - I’m not accusing them of wanting to misuse it - but the risks that this pose are way larger than the marginal benefits it creates.
Libertarians advocate for fiscal responsibility; lowering taxes, reducing government spending, and minimal government debt. It would cost the city nearly $280,000 to buy this armored vehicle. Some residents feel police should use the money instead on a drug court, officer raises or even bullet proofing their existing vehicles.
How do you feel the money should be used?
Response: Well the City of Norman is presently facing a very large crisis with how it treats the stormwater utility as the city is facing flooding, which is a very large public health hazard and as long as the City of Norman is in control of these types of issues, I believe that the additional funding should go to treating these issues and keeping citizens safe from the flooding, which is the greater risk in the City of Norman right now.
So, we’ve talked about keeping Norman’s police force and committee spending in check. Your campaign slogan is Vote Traci Baker for Ward 7 for a Freer Norman. What are some other ways you’ll contribute to making the city freer, if elected?
Response: Well recently the City Council put a six-month moratorium on building permits and I have vocally stated that one of my central issues is deregulation of zoning, to protect private property so that individuals can do with their property whatever they so desire. I’m also advocating for removing licensing and fees for needless things. Removing the garage sale permit requirement of $20 and lowering the city sales tax.
Before we finish up this interview, is there anything else that you would like to tell our audience about your history in the Libertarian Party, your campaign, or what you stand for?
Response: In the last year I’ve served in various capacities in both state and national issues with the Libertarian Party. I was Oklahoma’s Volunteer Coordinator for Gary Johnson and right now I’m Secretary for Outright Libertarians. I’m a dedicated Libertarian, serving to progress the freedom agenda across the Norman community, across the Oklahoma community, and across the national community. And I will be fighting for freedom in Norman.
Thank you so much Traci for your time today, and for being the change that you wish to see in the world. We look forward to staying updated on how your campaign is progressing and seeing the election results after February 14th. #LiveFree and take care.
Like Traci’s FaceBook page:
Traci Baker for Norman Ward 7