Tulsa Election 2011: Democrat Suliburk the conservative in District 8

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William_Suliburk_District_8.jpgIn the previous entry, I mentioned a candidate survey issued by OK-SAFE -- Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise. Say what you will about OK-SAFE and their views, but the group's questionnaire gets into the details of real questions facing City of Tulsa officials, and they allow candidates to respond with as much detail and nuance as they'd like, publishing each candidate's full response on the website. Cowardice is the only reason a candidate would refuse to submit a response.

Six general election candidates did submit a response. In District 8, William Suliburk, the Democrat nominee, submitted some sound and thoughtful conservative responses to the questionnaire. Republican nominee Phil Lakin, right-hand man to liberal Obama bundler George Kaiser, did not submit a response.

Suliburk, a Roman Catholic, is recently retired from a career in banking. He has a BA in economics from Georgetown University, an MA in economics from UCLA, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He serves on the Sales Tax Overview Committee.

Here are Suliburk's responses to questions about the proposed south Tulsa bridge, eminent domain for private redevelopment, city funding for Planned Parenthood, English only for government signs, the role of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and its city contract, immigration enforcement, the role of the City Attorney, the acquisition of the new City Hall, and the ballpark assessment. (Emphasis is mine.)

10. Regarding the South Tulsa/Bixby bridge, a) how would you pay for it, b) what street should traffic flow into from the bridge, c) when should it be built?

I am not in favor of the South Tulsa/Bixby bridge. There are already two bridges in the 91st St. area plus the bridge across Memorial Drive. There is little, if any, need for another bridge for South Tulsans. Neither Yale nor "River Road/Delaware Avenue/Riverside Drive" were meant to be the equivalent of Memorial Drive. Only that volume of traffic and commercial development could justify and support the bridge.

20. Would you support or oppose the City of Tulsa taking private property under eminent domain to transfer that property to private developers?

Oppose. This is nothing less than "crony capitalism", with its resulting corruption.

28. Would you support or oppose giving taxpayer funds (Community Development Block Grants) to Planned Parenthood?

Oppose. As with many groups, PP started as a limited purpose organization - in its case, for simple medical and counseling services. Even at that stage, it was subject to controversy - for example, my Catholic Church opposed ordinary contraceptive services. However, PP seemed to fill a void. Unfortunately, over time it evolved into what essentially is a political advocacy organization dealing in major medical and moral issues.
Therefore, taxpayer funds should not be directed to it.
PP would be best served to return to its early perspective.

30. Would you support or oppose a city ordinance that requires all signs on government buildings in the City of Tulsa to be in the English language only?

Support. There would likely to be exceptions for certain federal rules and for some areas of emergency facilities (e.g., hospital emergency rooms). It is important to recognize that English not only contributes to our melting pot, but more importantly is the sole "language of success". Therefore, we must encourage its use by all new residents so that they can reach their potential.

34. Would you support or oppose putting the city's contract with the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce out for competitive bid?

Support. Since early in my candidacy, I have been asked about the Chamber of Commerce's (COC) new role in city candidate elections. I was asked by COC to an interview shortly after the filing period. However, I was going to be out of the state for their schedule. I indicated I would be glad to meet when I returned, but they were firm
on the date, because they had to gather a large interview committee composed of staff and members for the occasion.

My presence at the interview would not have made a difference toward my candidacy. I have long admired the COC's activities and was on some committees during the 1980s. I support much of their current plan.

However, I would also have discussed with them my disappointment in their involving the COC in local candidate elections. COC is a formal partner with the city regarding economic development activities, receiving perhaps $1,800,000 annually from the city for the COC's efforts. I would have politely indicated that I did not want to be included in endorsements or funding.

I think it is inappropriate for COC to recruit and fund candidates for city elective offices while receiving money from the city. First, I think it is an ethical issue, whereby the COC should keep itself neutral in such a monetary/functional partnership. Second, I think it may be shortsighted for the COC's best long term interests.

Over a couple of election cycles, it is likely that there will be a number of officials elected who are opposed by the COC. It will be highly unlikely that those officials - who believe they are doing their jobs well - will vote to continue the relationship with the COC that is trying to thwart them or remove them from office. The COC will have poisoned the well for a continuation of its partnership.

The COC needs to choose whether to continue its formal economic development partnership or to be an electoral force. If the COC stops its electioneering, I would favor retaining the contract and partnership.

39. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett has stated, "Police officers are not here to send people back to their home country. That's not their job." (Source, Tulsa World, June 15, 2011) Do you support or oppose this stated position of the Mayor that it is not the job of police officers in the City of Tulsa to enforce federal immigration laws?

Again, nuances: Tulsans have always welcomed legal immigrants. We were also welcoming to the special exception for South Vietnamese immigration following the Communist North Vietnamese take over in 1975.

TPD does not have the resources to conduct sweeps of the population for illegal immigrants and should not be diverted from its core public safety tasks to do so. However, whenever TPD, in its normal course of law enforcement, does come in contact with illegal immigrants, the immigrants should be subjected to federal regulations. Tulsa should not be a "sanctuary city".

40. Do you support or oppose making Tulsa's city attorney an elected position?

This is not a singular issue to be voted on during this election cycle, although it is an element of the Council/City Manager proposal. I would prefer that the City Attorney be appointed by the Mayor with confirmation by the City Council. There has been an tendency in recent administrations for the City Attorney to rationalize the positions of the Mayor - which is not difficult to accomplish with the voluminous, imprecise, and sometimes conflicting city charter, city ordinances, and state legislation. I would propose an initial four year appointment which is done two years into a Mayor's term. The attorney would eligible for re-appointment and re-confirmation for one additional four year term. He/she would be limited to eight years total service.

49. Do you support or oppose the position taken by the City of Tulsa to move city hall offices to the One Technology Center?

Oppose. Although the price of the building/move was described as a "bargain", the owner would have been lucky to get half the price that the City paid. What is worse, a deeding/financing option was used to avoid the standard governance approval for such a substantial venture. Furthermore, everyone knows that an "independent consultant" can jigger the figures to show whatever the client wants; it was a low point for Roger Staubach's reputation.

51. Do you support or oppose the downtown assessment district fees on businesses to pay for the ballpark?

It is not appropriate for property located far from the ballpark to be assessed at the same level as property that is a few blocks away.

While conservative voters won't be in complete agreement with Suliburk's responses, they'll find much to link in his well-thought out responses and his willingness to disagree with the standard Cockroach Caucus position. A conservative District 8 voter who wants a councilor in line with his views, who wants a councilor not beholden to billion-dollar special interests or out-of-district donors may well prefer Democrat nominee Suliburk to a nominal Republican who won't go on record on these important issues.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 7, 2011 11:40 PM.

Tulsa Election 2011: The City Council candidates and the trash contract was the previous entry in this blog.

Tulsa Election 2011: Blake Ewing in District 4 is the next entry in this blog.

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