Tuesday’s municipal primary election in Tulsa may have significantly changed how groups of people relate to each other. Specifically, the Firefighters Local 176 “identified their members as city employees while campaigning for specific candidates in direct violation of the Tulsa City Charter and the Federal Hatch Act” according to City Councilor John Eagleton, who did not face an opponent in the race.
Eagleton, an attorney, said in an exclusive interview that he would not file a complaint because, if litigated, it could cost the city millions in lost grants, possible fines, plus the cost of the litigation itself. “I’ve made my concerns known,” Eagleton added.
This blatant partisan campaigning by the Firefighters unions occurred because a handful of councilors urged the council to carefully review their budget. The union went to war in a door-to-door campaign that some report included threatening reduced public services if the budget curious councilors were re-elected. We should not be so easily scared. Many were angered. Of course union members can participate in elections as private individuals, but when they represent themselves as “public employee” affecting a public vote is stepping over the line.
Consider if the Tulsa Fire Department should duplicate Emergency Medical Services. Do we need two emergency responses to every call? Yes the union says, they have plenty of time and money – our taxpayer money. Sure the Tulsa Police Department needs an armored personal carrier (may look like a tank to you as it comes down the street). The unions are acting like a spouse hiding the checkbook – keep it up and divorce from public credibility is sure to follow.
The City Council races continue to the general election, but several were settled in the primary.
Jack Henderson – Democrat is back as an unopposed incumbent. Oh well, so much for civilized public discussion on the Council.
Rick Westcott – Republican re-elected incumbent – one of the best councilors in Tulsa history and one of those who recently called for an external audit of the Fire Department, thus provoking the Firefighter wrath. With no Democrat opposition, Westcott will continue his service on the council.
David Patrick – Incumbent – Democrat
Karl William Hulcher – Republican – retired racecar driver – web site asks on the home page, “Are you tired of the David and Rosco show?” However, every other page says, “check back” and provides at this writing no detail on any page. Maybe he will add something now that the Democrats are finished fighting through the primary.
EricGomez – Incumbent – Republican – real estate and construction consultant – a strong advocate for his district also targeted by the Firefighters union. He has been the strongest advocate for District 4 ever elected.
Maria Barnes – Democrat – former councilor –civic volunteer best know as accomplishing nothing during her last term in office and her strong support of Tulsa as a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.
Bill Martinson – ousted incumbent – Republican –chief executive officer of Sintered Parts. Martinson was the best “numbers guy” ever to serve on the Council. He found the figures local special interests tried to hide and was dedicated to “sound fiscal” policies in city government. He found that over the last ten years, the police and fire budgets significantly outstripped inflation and consumed 74 percent of the growth in the City of Tulsa General Fund and all the city sales tax revenue. Strong stands on difficult issues have earned him respect of the citizens, but opposition from public union bosses. He did not offer an election web site, but referred people to his council page online.
Chris Trail –Republican (in name at least) is a restaurant operator well funded by local public unions and Democrats following Mayor Kathy Taylor. Will he recluse himself from any vote on the Firefighters contract? Can you guess his votes in advance?
DennisTroyer –Democrat Incumbent – retired from American Airlines.
James S.Mautino – Republican – former councilor returning to battle.
John Eagleton – Republican – an attorney, the incumbent did not draw an opponent in the race.
Bill Christianson – Republican – an incumbent frequently found on both sides of issues will return to the council after receiving the strong support of the Firefighters.
Phil Lakin – Republican – showed more promise in his first race for public office than any other newcomer to local politics in twenty years. Many hope he will run again, but against the Firefighters (ever heard of any union supporting Republicans as they did Lakin’s opponent?) he faced an almost impossible challenge and came within 222 votes of winning.
G.T. Bynum – Republican – incumbent will seek his second term on the council and was unopposed in this primarily Republican district.
Roger D. Lowry – Democrat will run again as he has run many times before with little funding and limited numbers of volunteers in the general election. Firefighters are expected to help him.
In the mayor, city auditor and remaining council contests, Tulsa Today news reporters will be interviewing candidates in the coming weeks. As the resident op-ed writer, I will be considering their respective positions in future analysis.