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PR consultant Gary Percefull won re-election to the Tulsa School Board, defeating retired teacher Brenda Barre by a vote of 449 to 412.

It's a very difficult thing to beat an incumbent school board member, and Barre is to be congratulated for coming so close. It means that she and her campaign team (led by Christie Breedlove) were able to raise awareness that a change is needed. Still, it's heartbreaking to come so close -- less than two votes per precinct. You can think of a hundred things that you didn't do, thinking they wouldn't make much of a difference in the outcome; all of those things together might have made all the difference.

Turnout was abysmal, as usual -- less than 5%, I would guess. It's hard to get the media excited about the school board election because only a small portion of the district votes each year. Any given year isn't likely to produce much change -- at most two of Tulsa's seven board members would turn over.

If our Republican legislators really want to increase voter involvement in the public schools and improve the schools' responsiveness to their taxpayers and parents, they should change the school board election laws, so that every seat is up for election every two years statewide.

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10 Comments

W. Author Profile Page said:

One thing Barre didn't do was place yard signs in west Tulsa. I didn't see any of hers in my neck of the woods, while Percefull's were everywhere.

Name recognition is a big factor in gaining votes. Tulsa candidates sometimes forget that there is a Tulsa on the other side of the Arkansas River. Percefull, who works on the west side, knows this, and he didn't take that area for granted. It wouldn't surprise me if west Tulsa helped tilt the election.

mad okie Author Profile Page said:

Well it sure didnt help that the election was held by itself in the middle of February instead of with the general election... how much money was spent to hold this election... how many $$$ per vote was spent by the city?

my precinct had a whopping 32 votes before we showed up at 5:00, I doubt many more showed up.

Bob said:

It is NOT an accident that the Tax Vampires schedule the School Board and School Bond elections for the second Tuesday in FEBRUARY.

February's a dismal time of the year with short day-light hours and long, cold nights to discourage actual CAMPAIGNING for the school board position.

This deep winter timeframe compliments the plans of the perpetual spending machine of our locally SELECTED school boards that function as wholly-OWNED subsidiaries of the militant teachers unions - with their school board member campaigns funded by the favored construction companies, suppliers, vendors, consultants, etc.

These SILO'd elections, follow by a mere few months either the every other year elections for state and federal office, or follow the Presidential election every four years.

Uh, maybe we could combine some elections and actually SAVE some money wasted by our local County Election Boards?

Why not?

Occasionally, there are disingenuous ruminations from our governmental toadies fronting for the big money construction companies, bond underwriters, architects/engineers, and associated Greater Tulsa Cronies and Contractors (GTCC) when an EMBARRASSMENT of elections occurs in a given year.

Like just happened again in 2006.

WHY is the poor, abused Oklahoma (and Tulsa County) taxpayer again and again forced to pay for SOOOOOOOOOO many elections virtually EVERY year?

2006 was quite embarrasing with HOW MANY elections?

Let's just count them up, shall we?

School Board and School Bond elections in February, followed by a MONTH later the City Primaries, followed in April by the City General Elections.

Then, there were the state primaries with associated RUN-OFF elections in the summer, followed by the General Election in the fall of 2006.

Now, a mere 120 days later, they've again very cleverly scheduled a Silo'd-election/selection with a miserable

Am I leaving out any elections?

Well, we did ALMOST have another election on funding the "visionary" The Channels Project last December?

Remember that near-miss of another Tax Grab?

A really slickly promoted, and well-executed, formidably funded attempted tax grab. Funded by the Benham Companies and the Warren Financial Interests?

And, promoted with echo-chamber Tulsa World "news" coverage and serial favorable editorieals.

Along with their pliant public mouthpiece, County Commissioner "Randy" Randi Miller, the wet-dream-girl of post-pubescent Public Works Pool Boys, way out front agitating for the Channels, including semi-erotic big-toe dipping demonstrations in the nearest water source.

But, that Tax Campaign just sort of ran out of gas like the venerable Wehrmacht at the Gates of Stalingrad......

About the same time to year, too......

Hmmmmh..... Winter Kills?

P.S.

Wonder HOW MANY Union, Jenks etc. public school teachers voted yesterday to raise your taxes?

W. Author Profile Page said:

Hmmm ... with all the pulpy language, it sounds like Randi Miller turns Bob on.

If you like her that much, send roses next time. ;-)

Anne said:

"... our locally SELECTED school boards that function as wholly-OWNED subsidiaries of the militant teachers unions..."

Not to mess up a perfectly good rant with something as irrelevant as a smidgen of the truth, but the TCTA (Tulsa Classroon Teachers Association) endorsed Brenda Barre, not Gary Percefull. So did the Service Workers Union.

Christie Breedlove said:

Actually the largest voting precincts were not in southwest Tulsa. They were in midtown and on the north side. The Barre campaign spent every weekend (minus two icy weekends) and many afternoons in southwest Tulsa and had great reception from everyone with whom we spoke. Many of those people were sending their children to private schools, charter schools, or Berryhill schools.

Barre had signs in yards of people who supported her rather than in front of businesses and in the yards of rental property. In fact, we were told by more than one person that the landlord put a Percefull sign in the yard and one woman even had a landlord make her take her Barre sign down (Hello, have we read the First Amendment?). We were outspent at least two-to-one so we couldn't waste signs in the right-of-way and therefore chose to place most of them with a legitimate supporter.

The real problem was voter turnout, EVERYWHERE. The total votes in this election were less than just Percefull's total in his last election. Percefull had Lucky Lamons do some robo-calls for him the day before the election and he still didn't really get anyone out to vote. He won by 600+ votes in his last election but only 37 in this one where he spent a lot more time, effort and money.

We had a great candidate and stuck with a positive message, placing an emphasis on having an experienced educator help make decisions about what will best prepare students for each level of their learning and prepare them for life after TPS. We could have made a robo-call with Don Undernehr, or Doug Dodd, or Jabar Shumate, or Roscoe Turner, or any of our many supporters in an attempt to get out the vote, and it may have drummed up another 40 votes. But these calls take money and we didn't have $1,000 contributions from the Schustermans, or $500 from Chet Cadieux, or Howard Barnet Jr., or $250 from George Kaiser, Tom Baker or Jim Frasier. As Michael points out the shoulda, coulda, wouldas can add up.

I would support having the entire board up for election at the same time. I think it should be no different than the city council. We need some major change in the way business is conducted on the school board. There is far too much business discussed when the camera is not on for the public to see. Information that should be readily available to the public goes through an approval process like nothing in any other government body I've encountered. It's a good ol' boy system that is long overdue for reform.

Sneakz said:

My (former) Fair City has its school board/city council elections in May, rather than either with the general election or the primary election.

That said, turnout is pretty high for this sort of thing - around 30%.

Anne said:

"... one woman even had a landlord make her take her Barre sign down (Hello, have we read the First Amendment?)."

Do you mean the one that restricts the GOVERNMENT from abridging freedom of speech? Between a private landlord and tenant, the matter is a contract issue, not a constitutional one.

"... We had a great candidate and stuck with a positive message, placing an emphasis on having an experienced educator help make decisions about what will best prepare students for each level of their learning and prepare them for life after TPS."

Maybe the thought of electing teacher endorsed by the teacher's union to a job which includes negotiating and approving the teacher's union contract cost votes. Maybe having Mr. Bates and other bloggers endorse Ms Barre cost her votes. Maybe having politicians rather than widely respected philanthropists and business leaders as supporters cost votes. Maybe having no reason to believe Mr Percefull has done anything wrong other than being the incumbent cost Mrs Barre votes. Maybe a candidate with a positive message AND a solid track record of support for and involvement in schools actually within the district he ran for (for longer than the four years he has served on the Board, by the way), cost Ms Barre votes.

Coulda, woulda, shouldas might just add up in both directions ....

"... There is far too much business discussed when the camera is not on for the public to see. Information that should be readily available to the public goes through an approval process like nothing in any other government body I've encountered."

Can you give an example or is this just a perception? Are you aware of violations of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act which prohibits just this kind of out-of-meeting activity? When was the last time you had a constructive conversation with a School Board member? You can certainly wish for (or work for) a different system. But it seems a bit hollow if you haven't tried to work in the present one. Maybe I just don't understand your comment here. Help me out.

Goodness! What does it tell you when the winner's side is more bitter than the loser's side?

Sneakz, May would be a big improvement. It would provide warmer weather and more daylight for door-to-door campaigning, and voters would be more likely to venture forth in warmer weather.

Pam R. said:

I am glad Mr. Percefull won re-election. Nothing against Mrs. Barre. I have met her and she seems nice enough but I believe Mr. Percefull does have more experience and has a proven track record. I do want to touch on a another matter that has bothered me. I believe these elections are for "The students and not the teachers". I have seen the light when it comes to the teachers union. Someone send me some shades to block that horrible glare! It is a shame that a few disgruntal teachers would try to ruin things for their students. My whole perspective has changed. Mr. Bates, thats not being negative nor angry just stating my observation.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 14, 2007 8:44 AM.

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