John Wright for county competitive bidding, transparency

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Realtor Darryl Baskin has interviewed all four Republican candidates for Tulsa County Commissioner District 3, and you can see the interviews on his LiveStream channel.

Baskin asked insightful questions of each of the candidates and elicited thoughtful responses. I was particularly impressed with the answers from John Wright, which you can see below. He understands some of the details of county government that may not make for exciting radio commercials but make the difference between honest, open government that serves the public interest and cozy insider dealing that favors special interests.

Some highlights:

On revenue bond funding for capital improvements (starting at 10:30): Wright points out that pay-as-you-go, spending the tax revenue only as it comes in, as Oklahoma City did for MAPS, allows all revenues to go toward projects, while Tulsa County's approach of borrowing against future tax revenues diverts funds from projects to pay interest. If Tulsa County issues bonds in the future, Wright says that when the county issues revenue bonds there should be a request for proposals and competitive bidding for the sake of transparency, to avoid any appearance that someone has a special deal for the placement of the bonds.

On county government reform (starting at 12:30): Wright argues for a separate First Deputy for each County Commissioner, in order to comply with the spirit as well as the letter of the Open Meetings Act. Because there are only three commissioners, any two comprise a quorum, and they cannot legally discuss county business except in properly called public meeting. At the moment, two commissioners share a deputy. Wright says that makes it possible for a majority of the commission to "have a meeting of the minds" and come to agreement on an issue outside of an open meeting. "The Open Meeting law is designed to ensure that public business is conducted in a public forum."

Wright also says there should be more transparency with regards to successful bids on county contracts. Right now, you have to go to the County Courthouse in person to get the information, which you should be able to get over the internet.

Another of Wright's reform aims is to have separate votes on distinct issues, rather than grouping large numbers of issues together and passing them with a single vote. Separate votes provide accountability -- you can find out how your commissioner voted on each issue.

In his final comments (starting about 16:30), Wright mentioned that Tulsa County is in the top third of the country in ad valorem (property) tax burden and has the highest ad valorem burden in Oklahoma. Ad valorem doesn't only affect real estate -- businesses pay ad valorem tax on their equipment. He noted that the County Commissioners can put issues on the ballot to allow voters to change the level of tax for entities with fixed millages, possibly reducing the tax burden.

MORE: This map illustrates where the two ongoing current county commissioners live (red district numbers 1 and 2) and where the four Republican candidates for District 3 live (green first and last initials). If either Ron Peters or Brandon Perkins wins, all three County Commissioners will reside in the City of Tulsa; no other municipalities will be represented. If Ron Peters is elected, all three county commissioners will live within a three-mile radius of Utica Square. If Brandon Perkins is elected, all three county commissioners will live within a four-mile radius of Brookside. Click the picture to see a larger version of the map.


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 9, 2013 1:28 AM.

The Tulsa non-partisan election and runoff process was the previous entry in this blog.

Tulsa mayor's race: A tale of two polls is the next entry in this blog.

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