Eric and Tracy Owens made the three-hour drive from Grand Prairie, Texas Tuesday to attend a city council meeting in Norman.
Though Eric used to live in Norman, he didn’t come back to catch up on city business or zoning ordinances. He came back to see his daughter, Alex Scott, take the oath of office as Ward 8 city council member.
“I’m just very proud of her,” Eric Owens said. “She’s been working hard toward this for a long time and it’s something she wants to do. She wants to help out the community, the city and everyone in it. I couldn’t be more proud of everything she’s accomplished so far.”
The 24-year-old Scott was elected in a runoff with incumbent Kyle Allison on her birthday, becoming Norman’s youngest council member on record.
The council welcomed Scott Tuesday and Ward 7 council member Stephen Tyler Holman reflected on how much the council has changed during his tenure.
“When I was elected five years ago I was 28 years old and the next youngest council member was around 40,” he said. “There were only two women council members at that time. It’s been exciting to see how it’s changed in that five years. We’re only the second city in the state of Oklahoma to have a female majority city council, still, and half of our city council is under the age of 35.”
For her part, Scott said she was excited and a little nervous but ready for the moment and ready to take her comfortable seat on the other side of the dais.
“It feels good,” she said. “It’s been a couple of months leading up to it, so it will be nice to be recognized for the work instead of just doing it behind the scenes.”
The council also welcomed new member Joe Carter. The Ward 2 council member won his seat outright in February and has been waiting for his moment with anticipation.
“I feel like I’ve been hired to do a job and I’m ready to do it,” he said. “I’m very excited. I look forward to the challenge and think there are a lot of great opportunities for our city to move forward.”
Carter said he believes he has big shoes to fill in replacing former Ward 2 council member Aleisha Karjala, who did not seek re-election to pursue a State Senate campaign.
“Ward 2 has been taken care of very well and I look forward to the challenge of doing as well as she has,” Carter said. “She has been a great mentor through the process.”
In addition to welcoming new representation, Tuesday’s ceremony also included the swearing-in of returning council members Bill Hickman (Ward 4) and Breea Clark (Ward 6).
The council also acknowledged the service of former council members Karjala and Allison.
Ward 3 council member Robert Castleberry, the council’s most senior member (elected in 2012), was once again appointed mayor pro tem following a unanimous council vote.
The new council members will take part in their first regular council meeting on July 10 and get a chance to dive into the issues in detail on the upcoming city council retreat at the end of the month.