Disambiguating District 4

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There's a real possibility of confusion in the District 4 council race between Maria Barnes and Robert C. Bartlett, so let's talk about the two candidates.

Maria Barnes
is President of the Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood Association and Vice President of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. She and her husband James have three children. Maria serves on the City's Human Rights Commission. She has graduated from the Citizens' Police Academy and has served on the Police Community Relations Committee and the Police Oversight Committee. In 1999 she served on the Mayor's Infill Development Task Force.

As a leader in Kendall-Whittier, Maria helped develop and has been actively involved in overseeing the execution of the neighborhood's master redevelopment plan. She is often before the Board of Adjustment and the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) concerning issues in Kendall-Whittier, but also in support of other Midtown neighborhoods.

I've known Maria for about eight years as we've worked together on the Midtown Coalition. Maria endorsed me when I ran for City Council in 2002. She decided to run for Council before incumbent Tom Baker announced his plans to run for Mayor.

Back before the primary, I listed Maria as an example of a "neighborhood servant". It's hard to think of anyone better prepared to serve the interests of neighborhoods on the City Council.

You'll remember that Bartlett won the Republican primary despite having ceased his campaign as hopeless after Congressman John Sullivan's endorsement of Rick Brinkley. Brinkley and the other candidate, Kent Morlan, didn't do much campaigning. Brinkley and Morlan appeared at candidate forums but didn't bother to make phone calls, put out yard signs, knock on doors, or send mail to voters. I did see a few Brinkley signs the day before the election, but that was it. Brinkley appeared to be taking the primary for granted and was saving his money for the general election.

My guess is that all the Republican voters who turned out to vote in the mayoral primary were surprised to see a Council race on the ballot, and they voted for a familiar name -- Dewey Bartlett was Governor of Oklahoma and a U. S. Senator, and his son, Dewey Jr., was City Council in District 9 from 1990 to 1994 and in 2004 was a candidate for State Senate, District 33, which overlaps Council District 4. I wonder, too, if some remembered seeing signs for Barnes (Maria, running in the other primary) and, looking at the ballot, "remembered" seeing signs for Bartlett.

But Robert C. Bartlett is no relation to the two Deweys. In the '50s he was a zoning administrator working for the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC). He was involved in designing and promoting the urban renewal plan, a plan that ultimately led to the demolition of the oldest section of downtown Tulsa and all but a block of the Greenwood business district.

Bartlett left public service to go into real estate. In the '60s and '70s he served as a member of the TMAPC. That puts his involvement in land-use planning in the years when the current comprehensive plan -- the one we're getting ready to replace -- was being formed.

Bartlett's general election campaign didn't look like it would be much more active than his primary campaign. At a neighborhood meeting a couple of weeks ago, he was handing out photocopied flyers that had his name misspelled. His pre-general election ethics report showed $1,010 raised, all of it in gifts of $200 or less.

Then yesterday we got an automated call and a slick four-color flyer in the mail promoting Bartlett. Through a friend I found out that Bartlett has yard signs. The yard sign and the printed materials have a familiar style. Between the call, the flyer, and the signs, he must have spent over $7,000.

The automated call came from Eric Gomez, the 2004 nominee. I called Eric, curious to learn more about this sudden surge of activity in the Bartlett campaign, but the message on his cell phone said he was out of town until April 4, and he wouldn't be returning messages until then, which seemed very odd.

Things started to add up. I remember wondering, after the primary, wondering what campaign consultant Jim Burdge was going to do with himself after a disastrous primary night. One of his candidates (Christiansen) won re-election, another one (Martinson) advanced to the general election, but the other four (Prather, Buchert, Zarley, and Stava) were wiped out in the primaries and the attempt to defeat the zoning petition charter change was turned back. (In case you've forgotten, Burdge was a consultant to the attempt to recall Councilors Medlock and Mautino, a campaign filled with smears and dirty tricks from the vote yes side.)

My theory is that Burdge has attached himself to Bartlett, bringing along financing from the development lobby in an effort to keep Maria Barnes off the City Council. I would further suppose that Bartlett is utterly unaware of the bigger picture: Some people offered to raise money and to run his campaign for him, and he gladly accepted. The flyer and yard signs look like a Burdge production, and the use of Gomez for the automated phone call connects it all to Burdge as well -- Burdge managed Gomez's race for Council.

I hope I'm wrong about all this; if I am, let me know.

UPDATE: Today another automated phone call went out for Bartlett, this one from Dewey Bartlett Jr., who is a member of the advisory board for Tulsans for Better Government, the group that wants to dilute district representation at City Hall with at-large supercouncilors.

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SEE YOU AT THE POLLS ON APRIL 4TH: Six proposed amendments to the City Charter are on the ballot this Tuesday. Homeowners for Fair Zoning supports the passage of all six. (See Michael Bates's article in Urban Tulsa Weekly for... Read More


michelle Author Profile Page said:

Apparently, the "Dewey Bartlett" is now making automated calls for Bartlett, just to confuse people further.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 31, 2006 10:54 PM.

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