Thursday, 27 March 2008
Endorsement: The most exciting race in next Tuesday’s city election may be as important to the economic health of all Tulsans as it is to the residents of District 4. The core of the controversy is the redevelopment of Tulsa’s center city area and the limitation of individual property rights and development promoted by incumbent Councilor Maria Barnes.
Barnes is most famous for asking during a public meeting if 40 percent and 60 percent include everyone. Barnes often introduces herself at official hearings as both City Councilor and President of Kendal-Whittier Neighborhood Association which sounds like a conflict of interest to other neighborhood groups.
District 4, which stretches from the Arkansas River east to Sheridan Rd and from I-244 south to 21st / 25th Streets faces big-city challenges of crime, street repair, abandoned and neglected property. However, young and not-so-young Tulsans are buying commercial and residential property to repair and rebuild in the most exciting rebirth of the inner-city in Tulsa history. That growth could halt if Barnes and her small group of vocal supporters win.
Councilor Maria Barnes
Infill development adds wealth to center city neighborhoods. It increases property values and homeowner equity and revenue to the city – both public and private.
Conservation districts have not yet been defined specifically by proponents, but in general it would overlay additional specifications on what can and cannot be done with private property. It empowers some neighbors to tell other neighbors what to do with their own land and buildings. It reduces economic and individual liberty.
Facing Barnes in the Tuesday vote is Eric Gomez, Republican, in his second race for the seat. In 2004, Gomez came within 24 votes of beating then-incumbent and now-Deputy Mayor Tom Baker. Gomez has lived in Tulsa 17 years in the mid-town area. He owns a small real estate services company and has his real estate license with Keller Williams Realty in mid-town. His company specializes in mid-town restoration and remodeling.
Gomez told Tulsa Today, “I support private property rights and I believe individual investments in District 4 are building better neighborhoods. In some cases within a small area with similar property a so-called conservation district might work, but the devil is in the detail and there are no details publicly available at this time for this proposal in Tulsa. I don’t sign blank checks.
“When I talk with the residents of District 4, they are most interested why it takes so long for police to respond to their calls and why the city streets are in such bad shape. Their automobiles are getting torn-up on bad roads – a very personal expense,” Gomez said.
Gomez and his wife Sarah have been living in Renaissance Neighborhood since March of 1998. Sarah and Eric have two children, Nora and Isaac and two adopted greyhounds. They are members of St. Paul’s United Methodist church. Since joining the church in 1997 he has served in numerous capacities including Chairman of the Trustees (4 years), Vice President of United Methodist Men (1 year), Tulsa United Methodist District Campground Board Member, Volunteer youth worker (UMYF grades 6-12), and other committees.
Gomez is an avid neighborhood advocate and has actively participated in the Renaissance Neighborhood Association for six years, including serving as President for two years. Additionally, he was appointed to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Residential Impact Committee. He has served on the Steering Committee for Tulsa International Mayfest for seven years and as Co-chair of the Performing Arts Committee for six years. He is an active volunteer, patron, and charter member of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and a member of the Steering Committee for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. As an avid cyclist Eric Gomez’ cycling teams has raised over $180,000.00 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
Councilor Barnes has broken several recent promises to be interviewed by Tulsa Today. This has been typical of her current highly managed campaign. Several so-called neighborhood forums have been organized and executed more as worship services for Barnes and ambushes for Gomez.
However, in 2007, this writer taped a long interview with Barnes that shows her lack of understanding of public issues. The two resulting posts are extremely accurate transcriptions – a fact never since disputed by Barnes, her staff or supporters. While she does not say so specifically, many believe she would prefer Tulsa be a sanctuary city and that her votes in every dispute between the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County are cast against Tulsa County because Tulsa County Sheriff Stanly Glanz enforces current law. To read those interviews click here for “Councilor Maria Barnes on zoning, Bells, and immigration.”
Kent Morlan of www.morelaw.com wrote in a letter distributed to downtown business and property owners, “While I know and like Maria Barnes and laud her on her community spirit and involvement in the affairs of the Kendall-Whittier area east of Downtown Tulsa, I do not believe that she has demonstrated any particular insight or interest in the public policy issues that are of importance to the interests of the downtown business and property owner community.
“I have had the pleasure to spending a number of hours with Eric recently discussing issues of importance to the downtown real estate and business community. I believe that he has a better sense of what will be needed to help us …” Morlan continued.
Tulsa Today agrees that Eric Gomez is the best candidate. This site rarely makes political endorsements and when we do it is most often on an issue rather than an individual race. While Barnes is sweet and gracious as anyone could ask; District 4 needs a councilor with a clue, a working intellect, honesty, candor, courage and the ability to add 40 and 60 percent.
I am voting in District 4 Tuesday April 1, for Eric Gomez and urge you to do the same.
For more information:
Maria Barnes campaign site: http://mariabarnes4tulsa.com/
Eric Gomez campaign site: http://www.eric4tulsa.com/
Last Updated ( Thursday, 27 March 2008 )