District 4 endorsements

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Endorsements are starting to pile up in the Tulsa City Council District 4 race, with Eric Gomez receiving the support of the Tulsa World editorial board and the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly (TARA), and Maria Barnes being endorsed by neighborhood activists like Scott Swearingen and Greg Bledsoe. You can read the World's endorsement here. TARA did not specify the reasons for their endorsement, saying only that endorsements require a two-thirds vote of their membership.

Scott Swearingen, who played an important role in the late '90s in organizing Midtown neighborhoods to deal with adverse infill development, has endorsed incumbent Councilor Maria Barnes for a second term.

I first met Scott when was president of the Renaissance Neighborhood Association, which hosted a District 4 candidate forum when I first ran for Council in 1998. Scott encouraged me to get involved in the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, of which he was one of the founders. Later that year, Scott also helped Eric Gomez to get involved in neighborhood activism, encouraging Eric to participate, along with Scott and me, in the zoning subcommittee of the Infill Task Force. Scott and his wife Shiela not only endorsed me in my 2002 run for Council, they supported me with their time and money. In recent years, they moved to the Sophian Plaza building, a historic high-rise overlooking the Arkansas River at 15th & Frisco.

Scott sent the following letter to the Tulsa World:

As a long-time Tulsan and resident of District 4, I've had the opportunity to know and work with both our City Council candidates, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez. Both are smart, good people.

In your endorsement of Eric, you state that Maria's service to District 4 has been "lackluster" and that she has primarily worked on issues that only concern her neighborhood. I don't agree. Maria has devoted a huge amount of time and energy to the proposed fire code changes and to the impact they would have on residential highrise owners near downtown.

Before she was elected, she worked with many highrise owners to stop a rule that would have made sprinklers systems mandatory in all units ---- and in the process, driven many condominium owners out of downtown. When the next version of the fire ordinance was presented that had equally overwhelming and expensive mandates, Maria stood up again on behalf of high-rise residents.

Before the new fire code went forward, she made sure her constituents in highrise buildings and the other Councilors had an opportunity to review and understand how these laws effect property values. She made sure that the code does not treat all highrise buildings the same, but allows residents and the city to work together to find a balance between fire safety and costs to owners.

Maria lives in a primarily single-home residential neighborhood but she understands that downtown can only come back if city policies support affordable downtown living. I feel that Maria has worked very hard and effectively for all of District 4. I urge voters to visit the League of Women Voters Voters Guide website at www.lwvtulsa.org to find out more about the choice for District 4.

Scott Swearingen
1500 South Frisco Avenue, Apt. 7-A

Greg Bledsoe was a leader of Tulsans Defending Democracy, the successful grass-roots effort to stop the proposal to eliminate three Council districts and replace those seats with councilors elected at-large. He is also involved in organizing the Beautiful Terwilliger Neighborhood Association:

I have endorsed Dist. 4 Councilor Maria Barnes and strongly believe she is a progressive and hard working voice on the Tulsa City Council. She has always returned my phone calls and emails and has always been open and responsive to our concerns, even when she disagreed.

She stood shoulder to shoulder with Gary Allison, Elaine Dodd, Roscoe Turner, Chris Medlock, Jim Mautino, Jim Hewgley, Michael Bates, Herb Beattie and me in our bi-partisan effort to stop the ill-advised and discriminatory at-large 2006 charter change proposal promoted by the Tulsa World and real estate development interests. Stopping at-large and supporting neighborhoods formed the core of her campaign in 2006. Supporting neighborhoods and giving home owners the tools to preserve Tulsa's historic residential areas has formed the core of her 2008 re-election campaign.

She is being opposed by a chameleon Republican candidate that obviously has the backing of developers and the entrenched interests of the local newspaper. Neighborhood oriented Republicans support her policies and re-election even when they disagree with her on some social issues.... Democrats, like me, who are concerned about the future of our city and its development also strongly support her.

Neighborhood leaders--we can not do better for our group than re-electing Maria.

As I become aware of other endorsements, I'll append them to this entry.

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1 Comments

Paul said:

Michael: Strangely enough, in different elections for this seat, I have voted for Maria, for Eric, and for you.

I think Maria or Eric will serve District 4 well. In this case, I'm not too concerned about which candidate wins.

By the way, I've tried to contact both of them through email. Each has been very lax in responding. That's their choice to ignore potential voters. It doesn't make much sense to me, but I'm guessing that's how they've chosen to run their campaigns.

I haven't decided yet, so I don't have an endorsement. I'll make a choice before 7pm tomorrow.

Thanks for posting information about this race.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 31, 2008 6:36 AM.

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