By Gene Richy
Sunday, 05 March 2006
Assigned the task of interviewing Mayoral Candidate Chris Medlock, I wanted to find the story of Medlock the candidate and the man. After the interview, I understand now why some dislike him, but I am still not sure I know him.
Chris Medlock, 48, was first elected to the Tulsa City Council in 2003 in a special election when then-District Two City Councilor Randi Miller gave up her seat to run for County Commissioner. Councilor Medlock graduated from Tulsa’s Mason High School in 1976 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Northeastern State University. He is currently a single credit short of a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Tulsa – a fact he failed to mention during his early days in office until media tired of hearing him claim an MBA and brought truthful reports of his shortfall to public attention.
He is a former Product Manager for TV Guide Interactive as well as TV Guide Data Services, and spent five years as a marketing manager for TD Williamson. None of his former companies have released personnel files to show if Medlock claimed an MBA to land those jobs.
Councilor Medlock and his wife Cheryl have been married for 23 years. While they have no children of their own, they currently are the legal guardians for their niece, a sophomore at Jenks High School. They also have a foster daughter named Olga, who originally came to them as a 16-year-old exchange student.
Born in 1957 and raised in Tulsa, Medlock has worked as a self-employed marketing consultant, but says his interest was always drawn to politics.
Medlock seems at his best in confrontation and criticism. One of the early things he did to create furor was to stand against water board appointees Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds, vaguely alleging some conspiracy that enraged everyone who knew the two men.
Then Medlock supported Vision 2025 – kind of. Then he opposed it – kind of. Since then, he has railed against it even though over 60 percent of the vote approved the public infrastructure package now being implemented throughout Tulsa County.
Medlock used the City of Tulsa-sponsored Vision 2025 funded arena [BOk Center] land acquisition as an opportunity to rail against eminent domain.
The apex of the controversy started when he tried to stop F&M Bank from opening a new branch at 71 st and Harvard. Incidentally the branch will open this spring. He definitely likes to buck the system, but does that actually help to get the job done?
Recently he has stayed relatively low on the mudslinging radar, but one could suggest that is an effort to gather votes from the less radical. Being known as the radical representative on the City Council, Medlock has had plenty of press some fair and some, as Tulsa Today has written, “assassination by adjective.”
One thing that Councilor Medlock does have that others in the race for mayor do not is the rabidity of his followers. This writer attended the recent “Police Rally” sponsored by a local radio station. As his group waved banners by the entrances of LaFortune stadium, a big rig with a huge Medlock sign sprawled across its trailer passed by. Medlock supporters went wild. This kind of fervent support gets noticed. I contacted councilor Medlock recently for a phone interview to get a grasp of what to expect from him as mayor. Here is what Medlock had to say:
Tulsa Today: What specific goals have you set for the next four years if you win?
Medlock: Well, the first thing I would do is hire an experienced city manager with at least 15 years experience as Director of Public Works and Facilities. He would have broad oversight over the department. The rest of the day-to-day operations would be split out to other positions.
Then I would also try to identify at least two areas of government to study for privatization, one that jumps out at me right now is the animal shelter – the rest to be determined by my team.
Tulsa Today: How would you define Tulsa in 10 words or less?
Medlock: One is great…..umm…potential…and we need work.
Tulsa Today: Do you feel like you can build a quality staff and who do you have in mind?
Medlock: Terry Simonson is one of the first people I would look to bring in that would be great. Terry twice in the last two days has repeated his endorsement of me.
Also, some new up-and-comers and retirees have a great deal to offer and we would like help from all of them. We could very easily build a great staff. There are a lot of great people on my campaign, but most of them already have good jobs.
Tulsa Today: Will you pledge not to lie, steal, cheat, and hang with those who do?
Medlock: I haven’t lied, stolen or cheated yet, so that’s an easy pledge.
Tulsa Today: How will you deal with impasses with the City Council?
Medlock: Talk to them, which makes me distinct from our current mayor. Have formal meetings with them; pledge to hear them at least one hour a month, one-on-one meetings.
Tulsa Today: If you do not make it past the primary on March 7, would you ever consider working for McCorkell on his staff?
Medlock: On McCorkell’s staff, they know a lot about the city, I would have to hear about what an offer would be, I would have no problem working with Democrats. I’m doing that right now with [City Councilors] Jack Henderson and Roscoe Turner. It would be a difficult stretch though; I’ve been a lifelong republican and basically just have to see what an offer would be. There’s guys like Republican Jim Hewgley that’s told him to get me onboard, but like I said, it would be a stretch.
[Editor’s Note: Republican Medlock’s assertion that Democrat Don McCorkell has been urged to hire him raised suspicions within the Tulsa Today newsroom and we checked. Republican Jim Hewgley III, who is working with Democrat Mayoral Candidate Don McCorkell, said he has never talked with McCorkell about Medlock and has not spoken with Medlock since last November. McCorkell said no one has ever talked with him about hiring Medlock. Thus with contradicting statements, Publisher David Arnett called Medlock to confirm his position. Medlock denied some statements made during the original interview and added others that further obscured his positions. Both interviews were recorded. Surprising as it may be, it appears from the interviews that Medlock’s effort as a mayoral candidate is primarily directed toward gaining full-time employment as a City of Tulsa employee even though he touts what he claims is a growing chance he might win the top office. The following clip is the end of that second interview]
This race is one of the most interesting that Tulsa has seen in a long time. You could say it’s like an episode of "Survivor: Tulsa Mayoral Race." Who will get voted out and who will get betrayed and backstabbed? Remember to cast your vote, March 7 for the contestant you want to make it to the next round.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 05 March 2006 )