Have you met your city council candidates by phone or in person? Have they visited at your door? Have you attended one of many city council forums or debates? Citizens as a whole hope so because the primary Tuesday September 13, 2011 will decide some races – please consider the candidates and plan to vote.
Tulsa Today provides the following endorsements for your consideration.
Incumbent Jack Henderson is running against Jason Trent and Twan Jones – all Democrats. Henderson has long served the council, but the question raised by Jones is “to what good” in a district with rampant poverty and crime. Henderson has avoided direct confrontation on issues of his district while focusing on political favors for individuals during his many terms. Jones was interviewed by Tulsa Today writer Aaron Sheppard in a story you may read (click here for that story). Henderson is a big government and entitlement supportive politician. Jones believes in individual responsibility and community commitment. Tulsa Today supports Twan Jones in District 1.
With no incumbent, the District 2 primary fireworks are between Republicans Judith Adams, Jeannie Cue, Mathew Foster and Nancy Rothman. Of the group, Jeannie Cue shows the best track record of community involvement. Specifically on the Route 66 efforts in West Tulsa and economic development, Cue has a clear clue to the challenges within the district. Tulsa Today supports Jeannie Cue in District 2.
Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans in this Northeast Tulsa District with two candidates of each party running in the primary. Democrats David Patrick and Roscoe Turner have traded places on the Council over the years, but to little difference. While Turner is personally charming, at 79 yrs he does not remember much of what he is told or reads from one day to the other. Republicans have a choice between David Bell and Randall Reese with little chance in the general election. Tulsa Today supports David Patrick in District 3.
Incumbent Democrat Maria Barnes is almost universally seen as a neighborhood activist over-her-head on issues of substance. Further, she is superficially sweet, but meaner than a junkyard dog and ineffective as councilor. Her opponent, Ken Brune, is an attorney. Of the two, Tulsa Today supports Ken Brune.
Republicans of District 4 have the most entertaining choices as Blake Ewing, Rocky Frisco and Liz Hunt compete. Rocky Frisco has run before and after that race said to some that he really just likes Maria Barnes and ran to split the Republican field. During this campaign, Frisco denied that charge. Long a professional musician, Frisco was asked how many morning meetings he would make. Frisco answered with pride, “I made this one didn’t I.” He was then reminded that it was after noon and he appeared to doze off as other candidates presented. Liz Hunt is a woman of great ambition eager to appear socially prominent, but not well studied in matters of policy.
Blake Ewing is a downtown business owner and long term resident of District 4. This writer and Ewing have disagreed publicly, but after that issue settled we have talked and agreed on many other issues of common concern. Ewing’s entrepreneurship has been visionary in the resurgent downtown Blue Dome District. Ewing alone meets a payroll, invests his own capital in Tulsa, and is the only excellent choice for City Council District 4. Tulsa Today supports Blake Ewing for District 4 City Council.
With no Democrats, this race will be decided Tuesday. Karen Gilbert, Sam Roop, and Christopher Trail are competing to serve on Council. Roop is a former councilor and has experience in how government works from the LaFortune Administration. Roop is an honorable man well known in his district, but does not earn the Tulsa Today endorsement in this race. Karen Gilbert is running as a Republican, but works both for the Tulsa Public Schools and with the Parent Teachers Association. A novice to city policy issues, she first engaged Gary Percefull a long-established Democrat message manager and union operative to organize her campaign. Further, Gilbert hired Karl Ahlgren a self-aggrandizing duplicitous political prostitute that has lost many significant races, but is successful in operating the business model of political consultation with help from winning candidates and crony capitalists who feed upon the system.
As a radio talk show host, this writer has been critical of Chris Trail, but in this race I believe he is the best candidate. I have seen Trail grow in office as a councilor and believe him to be a hard working honest representative for the people of his district. Tulsa Today supports Chris Trail for District 5 City Council.
There will be a general election in District 6 with Democrat Robert Gwin Jr., but the main contest is on the Republican side with incumbent James Mautino and Byron Steele III. Mautino can be cantankerous in concern for his district, but not as much as the daily paper promotes and he usually has good reason as this district has suffered from a lack of public infrastructure over decades. Tulsa Today supports James (we know him as Jim) Mautino.
Bobby Bookout Jr. and Michael Rainwater are competing on the Democrat side and Thomas Mansur, Elliott Parker Sr., and Steven Roemerman vie for the Republican nomination to the general election. The Democrats have not made an impression, but of the Republicans Thomas Mansur is an engineer – a helpful perspective for a councilor as the city restructures the Public Works department. Roemerman is a nice guy, but not assertive or deeply studied and prone to follow conspiracy theorists rather than investigate opposing perspectives personally. Tulsa Today supports Thomas Mansur for the District 7 seat on City Council.
William Suliburk is the lone Democrat in District 8. The Tuesday Republican vote will decide between George Gibbs and Phillip Lakin Jr. and, given the massive Republican registration within the district, most likely the final word. Gibbs is an attorney and naturally combative which is not all bad, but Lakin is a leader more prone to build agreement between diverse perspectives. Lakin has been CEO of the Tulsa Community Foundation since 1999 and under his leadership; investments have swelled to $4 billion making it the largest community foundation in the country. While there is a world of difference between non-profit operations and political service, Lakin is the best choice. Lakin is intelligent, goodhearted and honorable. Tulsa Today supports Phil Lakin Jr. for City Council District 8.
Also a predominantly Republican district, Democrat Mike Batman filed, but the primary will likely decide this race between G.T. Bynum, Robert Pinney, and Kimberlee Whiteman. Pinney is a nice guy and earnest with little hope of victory. The race is between Whiteman and Bynum. Bynum was born into a political family and has wanted to be a U.S. Senator from the age of 6 and, some say, it consumes him. As a result, Bynum is often vague and troubling as he frequently avoids positions which require a stand on principle.
Whiteman is “real people,” a mom with no political experience, no deep pockets, and no political consultants. What is surprising is that her campaign is gathering strong support in the district. She is using the most basic of all election efforts – walking the district meeting and talking with other real people. She may wear out three sets of walking shoes before it is done and earn a seat on council. For that direct effort, Tulsa Today supports Kimberlee Whiteman for City Council.
Summary: Make up your own mind
Endorsements are simply reflections by pundits – your vote is your responsibility so take media (even our views), union, blogger, business or civic club promotion of particular candidates with a grain of salt. Decide what is important to you and your neighborhood. Take a personal measure of the man or women running. Most citizens expect honesty, demonstrated honor, functional capacity and forthrightness in office. However, those are not the same traits that win elections where imaging and message management often rule. Look through the crafted presentation to find the best servant of the people for the future of Tulsa. Your community depends on your vote.