We took it back!


Tulsa's voters sent a message today, and let's hope it was loud enough to echo down the corridors of power. Two incumbent councilors who were marked for defeat by the Tulsa Whirled won resounding victories. One challenger came within one vote per precinct of beating a first-term incumbent who was once discussed as a candidate for Mayor. And another challenger -- underfunded, labeled by the elites as a troublemaker -- mopped the floor with a four-term incumbent. We went three out of four in the closely contested races, and given the prevalence of voter irregularities in Oklahoma, the actual result in the fourth race may not be mathematically certain.

The biggest news of the evening was neighborhood activist Jim Mautino's victory over long-time incumbent Art Justis. Jim had a small number of faithful and enthusiastic volunteers. He didn't have much money, but he and his volunteers worked tirelessly. I was happy to have had the chance to pass out flyers with Jim on Sunday afternoon.

Art Justis was out of step with his district and ripe for defeat. Art backed every proposed sales tax increase, while the district usually votes against. Art is a Democrat in a majority Republican district. All that was needed to win was a credible Republican candidate who would run a serious campaign.

The result in District 6 will likely end speculation of a Justis run for State House.

There are probably Republicans out there kicking themselves for taking a pass on this race. They're really kicking themselves if they compounded their error by signing on as "Republicans for Justis" -- a list of endorsements that appeared in the Whirled's eastside supplement last Wednesday.

Jim Mautino got a bit of help, but probably not much, from a special election. Republicans in part of Council District 6 had an extra reason to go to the polls, to vote in a special election primary for Senate District 18. Jeff Johnson of Mayes County was elected and will face State Rep. Mary Easley in the battle to succeed her son Kevin, who has landed a golden term-limit parachute as head of the GRDA.

Councilor Chris Medlock's decisive 60-40 win over former Councilor Darla Hall is a poke in the eye to the Tulsa Whirled. It cements District 2 as a solid Republican seat. In the end Hall only won in her heartland precincts -- west of the river, north of 61st, dominated by Webster High School. When it was created in 1989, District 2 was everything west of the river, plus downtown and the Sand Springs Line west of downtown north of the river. Those boundaries were based on the 1980 census. When the lines were redrawn, south Tulsa had grown so much faster than the rest of the city, that District 2 had to move southwards. After the 2000 census, a clear majority of the district is now east of the river, and the predominant unifying characteristic is not which side of the river, but which school district. The two southernmost precincts west of the river are in the Jenks School District, as are nearly all the precincts east of the river.

Far from being a "weak link", as the Whirled labeled him, Chris Medlock is now firmly established on the Council, and his big win validates the political risks he took to do the right thing for the people of this city.

Sam Roop, also running on a shoestring budget, saw off a challenge from retired police officer Andy Phillips. Sam came very close to defeat two years ago, and given the Whirled's attacks on Sam leading up to this election, we all wondered if he could pull it off. Clearly, the voters appreciate his honesty and integrity.

More about the election results later.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 9, 2004 11:51 AM.

Take Back Our City was the previous entry in this blog.

District 3 election voided is the next entry in this blog.

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