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Ward 1 Councilmember Brandi Studley to attend Norman Community Cookout to engage community, field questions

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Ward 1 Councilmember Brandi Studley and a flyer advertising a "Norman Community Cookout," which she will attend for a council member meet and greet. 

Ward 1 Councilmember Brandi Studley will participate in a Norman Community Cookout and meet and greet from 4-8 p.m., June 26 at Colonial Estates park, allowing community members to get to know her and share city-related concerns.

The cookout will be hosted by the Social Injustice League of Norman, Red Dirt Collective and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Studley said she encourages community members to attend the meet and greet event as she’ll be welcoming input from attendees on ways to make Ward 1 a stronger community.

The community cookout will have free food, games and races, music and voter registration.

“I feel like our ward doesn’t have enough community events, and sometimes it feels like we’re left out of things, but we have a lot of diversity, and I would really love to see more programs for the kids,” Studley said.

Studley said her passions include mental health awareness, homelessness and COVID-19 relief. The council member, who won the Ward 1 seat in February, has already accomplished one of her top goals with the formation of a Crisis Intervention Team. 

The Norman Crisis Intervention Team is a non-violent task force for mental health emergencies. The team’s funding was initially going to come from the Norman Police Department, but in early June, Norman City Council members voted to pull the money from the city’s general funds instead.

Though Studley has already made progress with the development of this team, she said there’s still work to be done to support her diverse community. Studley said she prides herself on embracing diversity in all forms and on all sides while serving the southeastern side of Norman.

“Whether you’re rich or poor, white or black, whatever skin color, religion, sexual orientation —  we’re all different, and we have to meet people where they’re at, understand where they’re coming from and have compassion behind that,” Studley said.

Studley said Ward 1 has a lot of homeless people, and the population in her ward will increase once the hold on evictions is lifted. She said with rent prices high, she’d like to see a decrease in rent and daytime and nighttime services for homeless shelters.

“I have a lot of tenants, specifically in Ward one, who have reached out to me who are really fearful of being evicted and not to mention the current homeless population we already have —  we need to get better affordable housing,” Studley said.

President Joseph Biden’s administration announced earlier today they will extend the eviction moratorium an additional 30 days. This 30-day extension comes to assist tenants who can’t afford their rent amid COVID-19.

Studley said her next big plan is to construct a way to use the American Rescue Plan money to best serve Ward 1 and the rest of Norman. President Biden launched the American Rescue plan in January to subsidize working families of negative economic outcomes from COVID-19.

Norman received an allocation of $11 million from the federal plan, with another $11 million allocation coming to  the city in 2022. The city council voted to postpone the budgeting of these funds until July.

“My biggest thing right now is trying to really wisely spend this ARP money and be creative in ways that we can help the individuals who could potentially suffer and lose things in our community,” Studley said.

In the future, Studley said she’d like to see more arts and crafts events and disc golf opportunities at the park, alongside a decrease in homelessness and an increase in affordable housing and permanent homeless shelters. 

Studley said the ARP money the city received could help people struggling financially, but with rent payments, car payments and even business startups, she doesn’t feel like the amount given to people was enough.

As part of her plans, Studley said she wants the shopping center off of 12th Ave and Lindsey Street revamped to include a grocery store that’s walkable for residents, and she hopes to see communities come together for more programs and events.

“You don’t serve for your own benefit,” Studley said “You’re serving to help people and meet their needs where they’re at, and that’s something I strive to do every single day.”

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