City council candidate draws on OU experiences
If Norman City Council candidate Brande Kauffman is passionate about one thing other than law and local government, it’s watching her favorite TV shows on her DVR — which is going to need a bigger hard drive if she wins the Ward 7 seat in the March 1 election.
The OU alumna said she could talk for hours about TV, though she can devote less time to it since she began her campaign in January for the seat currently occupied by Councilman Doug Cubberley. Kauffman said she considers the AMC drama “Mad Men,” starring Golden Globe nominees Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss, a personal favorite and was completely aghast when neither actor won a Golden Globe this year.
“Nobody likes to lose. Anybody who says they do is lying. We’re all competitive … I don’t want to lose this election. I don’t,” said the Norman attorney, who lost her last bid for a city council seat. “This time I want to win, and it’s not because of my ego. It’s because I really think I can do something to help my community.”
Having just finished a dinner with members of the local Tea Party at Interurban Restaurant on a cold Friday night in January, Kauffman sat in a room that had recently been vacated by the dinner meeting’s attendees.
As employees picked up the checks and moved chairs to catch empty dishes, Kauffman sat back in her chair, arms folded — ready to talk politics and Norman.
“What’s going to change [if I win]?” she said. “I’m going to have to answer to more people. Right now I have to answer to my husband, answer to my parents when they call, definitely answer to my grandmother.”
Kauffman, who runs her own small law practice in downtown Norman with her husband, said fulfilling people’s needs is the best way to serve them.
She insists her top priority is being sure that she understands the needs of the people of Norman, including the OU students who might be disinterested in Norman’s political process.
“If [students] want to, if they’ve got a question, I’ll be open day or night that they can contact me,” she said.
“We could basically put City Hall in the middle of the OU campus, and the students at OU for the most part are going to be disinterested,” Kauffman said. “If they want to be involved, well, guess what, they’ll choose to be involved. It’s up to them.”
While attending OU as an undergraduate, Kauffman tried to stay active and engaged in politics as she set her sights on law school. She was a resident adviser in the Cate and Couch residence halls for three years and several summer intersessions while pursuing a letters degree and trying not to get in trouble with the administration.
Kauffman said she was once head of the UOSA Elections Board, and got a little carried away one time speeding down the South Oval on a Cushman Scooter to drop off ballot boxes during election week.
Kauffman was soon called into the head of the Physical Plant’s office and quietly warned not to do it again.
As a former resident adviser, she has stories aplenty, Kauffman said, some of which still retain their impact on her professional life.
A resident once came to Kauffman and said she had been a victim of sexual abuse. Kauffman said she felt she had the obligation to report it as part of her job, and alerted her superiors.
“But more than that, I had to make sure there was an appropriate support network and set of resources available for that resident. That’s a real big deal — to know you can make a difference in that person’s life,” Kauffman said as she cast her eyes down to the tabletop.
She said even now, years later, she still in touch with the former resident, who is now doing well and surrounded by positive, loving people.
Kauffman said she was lucky to be a part of OU housing, and that she benefitted from the camaraderie as well. It was all about being part of a loving community, she said.
“When I go to basketball games, every time they play the OU chant, I’m sitting there with my finger up with tears in my eyes. That’s important to me,” Kauffman said. “I hope that while I was there at the university that I gave back as much as I got. Because I got a hell of a lot, I mean a hell of a lot.”