Candidate calls western district “armpit of Tulsa”

This tale of disrespect should be filed under the category of what not to say about your own district in a public meeting while running for office.

Area developer Alan Ringle and his wife were attending the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Case Center Monday June 4.  State Senate District 37 Candidate Mark Croucher was sitting with them at the table.  District 37 includes portions of Jenks, Sand Springs and West Tulsa.

Ringle recalls, “I am a former-Chairman of the Sand Springs Chamber still serving on the Board of Directors and also a former-Chair of the Sand Springs Economic Development Authority.  I visited with Mr. Croucher who I had not met and I asked him about the boundaries of District 37.  He said he lived in Jenks and [in conversation] he said his district was the armpit of Tulsa.  I took great offense at that comment.”

“People from west Tulsa and Sand Springs do not appreciate people from Jenks calling us names and ‘armpit of Tulsa’ is not a name that wins friends.  He tried to backtrack by launching into a dissertation on map reading, but I interrupted him to say ‘Sir, I am a land surveyor and I understand maps very well, but you don’t call people the armpit of Tulsa’” Ringle said.

In the most charitable interpretation of Croucher’s remark, Tulsa County has a 90 degree angle from west to south in the district, but if related to the human body, that would make downtown Tulsa the armpit with Sand Springs the western arm.

Ringle continued, “After this exchange, I spoke with one of Mark Croucher’s supporters – the one who had invited him to the meeting and he was also offended by Croucher’s slur.

“We live out here and are trying to do what is best for our community.  My wife and I moved out here some thirty-odd years ago.  We have made Sand Springs and West Tulsa our home.  We have struggled through hard times and relished the good times.  We have worked to bring new businesses to our community.  Just a few weeks ago, Governor Fallin was here to help open the new $55 million, 154-acre Webco site once occupied by Hissom Memorial Center.

“I have never heard of anyone running for office so obnoxiously insult his own constituents – his own voters – the people he hopes to represent in the Oklahoma Senate.   How could anyone so insult a part of his own district?  How could Mark Croucher expect anyone who lives here to vote for him to represent them in the Oklahoma Senate,” Ringle asked.

“I’m a pretty easy going guy when it comes to politics and I don’t get involved that much and would not usually do an interview with you or any media about politics, but Croucher’s comments were rage inducing,” Ringle said. “My wife was offended.  I have never talked to a reporter about politics before, but people need to know before they vote Tuesday June 26.

“There is a natural competition between Jenks and Sand Springs,” Ringle continued.  “I have friends that live in Jenks and we joke about it, but we get along.  It is well known that Jenks is more affluent and I have no problem with that, but Sand Springs has often taken a back seat to development efforts in the metropolitan area and it doesn’t always set well.

“My business (Ringle Development) is also an associated member of the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber and we support the entire region’s economic and cultural development.  My family shops throughout the region and we often go to dinner in downtown Tulsa, on Cherry Street, and Brookside.  At a meeting of the Metro Chamber about a year ago they asked me what has been the strongest recent driver for business in Sand Springs and I answered; the redevelopment of downtown Tulsa.  The new BOK Center, ONEOAK Field, and all are great and Sand Springs is the closest of the suburbs with the best expressway access to downtown Tulsa,” Ringle declared.

“I am a developer and people who build in our additions spend between $200,000 and one million dollars.  Guess what, most of them work in downtown Tulsa.  There is a strong relationship between the redevelopment of downtown Tulsa and my clients,” Ringle said.

“Croucher just sat with us and we visited as we would with anyone.  We were not surprised to see a candidate for office at the table.  As with any civic group you get a lot of politicians showing up during an election cycle, but the good ones show-up between elections.

“I later told the current president of the Sand Springs Chamber what was said and she told me that Croucher had called the day before the event asking to speak.  Granted, we may not be a big town, but we schedule our Chamber speaker months in advance.  At this meeting Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak spoke.  We have 75 to 100 people attend on a regular basis and you don’t just show up and speak.  From what she said, Croucher was not happy he was refused,” Ringle added.

“It doesn’t matter specifically where on the west of the Arkansas River you live, when someone calls you the armpit of Tulsa – that’s offensive.  Call it Westside defiance if you like, but we have had to deal with condescending attitudes by some for a long time.

“The best example I can give is from an event at Expo Square’s QuikTrip Center one fall when they closed the event on a Friday night because of the Jenks vs. Union football game.  They did not close it for the OU vs. Texas game the next day.  I was offended when an organizer defending the decision said, ‘Everyone goes to the Jenks vs. Union game.’  My attitude was, really, I’m from Sand Springs and I don’t care about that game.

“In west Tulsa folks are the most genuine and gracious as any you will ever meet, but if you spit out fighting words, they will welcome you to go back east across the river in short order and likely help you on your way.

“I can tolerate anyone, but don’t disrespect me, my family or my community in part or in whole,” Ringle said.

A message was left on Mark Croucher’s cell phone seeking comment for this story.  Specifically, we referenced his calling District 37 the “armpit of Tulsa.”  As of this time, he has not responded.  If he does, we will update this story.

State Senate District 37 covers portions of Jenks, Sand Springs and West Tulsa.  Mark Croucher is challenging incumbent Republican Dan Newberry for the seat in the primary June 26.

Tulsa Today has written previously on Mark Croucher in, “Dis-endorsement: Croucher and Gantz.” Click here for that editorial.