Tulsa Election 2008: March 2008 Archives

Kevin Boggs, the Republican nominee for Tulsa City Council District 6, was on 1170 KFAQ this morning, accompanied by former District 6 Councilor Jim Mautino (the only real representation District 6 has ever had). Boggs gave a good interview -- unfortunately it doesn't seem to be up on the KFAQ podcast website.

Replacing the incumbent, Dennis Troyer, with Kevin Boggs would replace someone willing to acquiesce in any tax increase with someone who will oppose tax increases and work for accountability in government. Boggs spoke of taking up Mautino's effort to get an audit of the city's public works department, to investigate the way the department does business and how that may be hindering the most efficient use of our tax dollars to maintain our public infrastructure.

As I mentioned in my column this week, Troyer hasn't done much more than keep the seat warm. His most memorable comment was during the debate on moving City Hall to One Technology Center. He proclaimed that a building is like a woman: "high maintenance." He seems to see his job as waiting around and voting as he's told to vote.

This morning Boggs said that Troyer is taking credit for a new company coming to District 6. Boggs said that the company relocated from one part of the District to another, moving from an industrial area to a tract, rezoned with Troyer's help, adjacent to several homes. Boggs also pointed out that several improvements in District 6 that Troyer is taking credit for were in fact the doing of Jim Mautino. For example, it was Mautino who called public attention to the activities and modus operandi of Haywood Whichard, absentee owner of Eastland Mall. That scrutiny led to the city enforcement of building codes, putting pressure on Whichard to fix or sell the property. He sold Eastland to a new owner, who is redeveloping the mall as an office complex. But Troyer is taking credit for the positive changes that Mautino initiated.

You can read more about Kevin Boggs and his vision for District 6 in this Tulsa Beacon article about the District 6 race and in this endorsement editorial. Here is Boggs' response to the Tulsa Now questionnaire; here is Troyer's response. Boggs responded to the Preserve Midtown questionnaire; Troyer did not. Both responded to the League of Women Voters questionnaire.

Boggs would be a great improvement over Troyer, and I hope District 6 voters will support him at the polls tomorrow.

UPDATE (4/8/2008): Eastland-area neighborhood advocate Jennifer Weaver writes to correct my spelling of the former Eastland Mall owner's name: It's Whichard, not Witchard as I first had it. She also wants it known that she was not Jim Mautino's secretary, as Kevin Boggs erroneously called her in his campaign literature, an error that was propagated in the Beacon editorial. Jennifer did the research that uncovered who Haywood Whichard was and how he operated and brought that to Mautino's attention. It was not my intention to slight her or any other neighborhood advocate who worked on the issue. My intention was to contrast Troyer with his predecessor, and I do think Mautino deserves credit for pursuing the matter, even after he lost the 2006 election to Troyer. As you'll see in this guest entry at MeeCiteeWurkor by Jennifer Weaver, Troyer was not well informed on zoning and the implications of IL zoning for Eastland Mall.

UPDATE (4/9/2009): In the comments, Charlie Biggs corrects my correction. The Beacon did not misidentify Weaver as Mautino's secretary.

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.

I've received e-mails announcing volunteer opportunities for the two candidates for Tulsa City Council District 4 on this, the last weekend of the city campaign. Here's the info, in alphabetical order -- phone numbers as listed on the campaign websites:

Maria Barnes (phone number 918-955-0044):

One more weekend to go!!! We are going to try to cover a lot of ground these next 3 days, so any help would be appreciated. We will meet at our regular location--Cafe Cubana. Here are the times:

Friday: Meet at 9:30, walk until 2pm
Saturday: Meet at 10:30, walk until 4pm
Sunday: Meet at 12:30, walk until 4pm

Eric Gomez (phone number 918-742-1825):

Eric also needs volunteers for this weekend:

Where : Keller Williams Office - 2651 East 21st Street
When: 9 AM Saturday 3/29/08 - 2 PM Sunday 3/30/08
Special Project - 6:45 AM 4/1/08 and 3:45 PM 4/1/08
We need neighborhood sign wavers to be spread out throughout the district.


The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa has launched a new website -- lwvtulsa.org. The new online home now has the League's voter guide information which had been on their old site: information about the two proposed City of Tulsa charter amendments, the City Council candidate questionnaires, and the Tulsa Technology Center District 3 board election. The site also has links to maps and locators, to help you find your precinct and district.

Also online is one of the League's best resources: the Directory of Government Officials, which includes contact information not only for elected officials, but also for the many city and county authorities, boards, and commissions. Many thanks to the League for the work they do to make basic, factual information available to the voters.

Re-electing Roscoe

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This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I preview Tuesday's City of Tulsa elections, urging a vote in favor of both charter amendments on the citywide ballot and touching briefly on the Council races in Districts 6 (Boggs vs. Troyer), 8 (Christansen vs. Hansen), and 9 (Bynum vs. Kates vs. Tay). Since I covered the District 4 race (Barnes vs. Gomez) last week, my focus this week is on the seventh District 3 match-up between City Council Chairman Roscoe Turner and his perennial opponent, former Councilor David Patrick, and why I hope and believe that the voters of District 3 will re-elect Roscoe Turner.

Although he and I likely differ on national issues, Councilor Turner has been on the right side of most local issues, while his opponent was almost always on the wrong side, sometimes all by himself. Patrick is now calling himself an independent, but as a candidate and a councilor, Patrick has been under the control of the Tulsa Whirled editorial board, the development lobby, and other powerful special interest groups. Roscoe Turner is the true independent in this race, in that he owes his election only to his constituents, and his only ambition is to serve the best interests of District 3 and the city at large.

If you'd like to help return Turner to office, there are a number of ways you can help. There will be volunteer opportunities throughout the weekend and on to Election Day. Here's a link to the contact page on Roscoe Turner's website.

MORE: Here are the full texts of the charter amendments tied to Proposition No. 1 (moving elections to the autumn of odd-numbered years) and Proposition No. 2 (using the State's definition of "qualified elector").

Also, here's a podcast of Maria Barnes interview on KFAQ with Chris Medlock on Thursday morning. Eric Gomez was offered the same opportunity to appear but evidently did not respond to the offer.

"Democratic government will be the more successful the more the public opinion ruling iit is enlightened and inspired by full and thorough discussion....The greatest danger threatening democratic institutions comes from those influences which tend to stifle or demoralize discussion." -- Carl Schurz

For a serious contender, Jason Eric Gomez is running one of the most bizarre campaigns for City Council I think I have ever witnessed.

In 2004, Gomez ran as the pro-neighborhood candidate against incumbent Tom Baker, former Tulsa Fire Chief and the pro-developer-lobby, establishment candidate. During his years as fire chief Baker famously characterized leaders in Renaissance Neighborhood, of whom Gomez is one, as C.A.V.E. People -- Citizens Against Virtually Everything. Despite Baker's massive funding advantage and Baker's endorsement by the Tulsa World, Gomez came within 24 votes of Baker.

Instead of building on that nearly-successful formula, this time Gomez is pitting himself against Midtown neighborhood advocates, attacking me and every other neighborhood advocate who thinks neighborhood conservation districts (NCDs) are an idea worth pursuing.

An NCD is a zoning designation that allows new development while protecting the characteristics that made the neighborhood attractive for development in the first place. Most large cities in the region have this designation -- Oklahoma City has had an equivalent designation for a quarter-century, with even more stringent requirements on infill development in the downtown and Bricktown areas.

There is a draft NCD enabling ordinance that has been discussed during the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission's (TMAPC) work session. The proposed ordinance is limited in scope -- much more so than similar ordinances in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and other cities -- and it is very early in the process.

There is an opportunity to have a reasoned discussion about the pros and cons of the proposed ordinance. Skeptics could identify specific provisions that are problematic and suggest alternative provisions and safeguards that would be sufficient to win their support. Those who would never under any circumstances support an NCD ordinance should say so plainly and set out their philosophical objections to the concept, and they should be prepared to explain how those objections fit within a coherent philosophy of land-use planning and zoning, something Gomez wasn't prepared to do at the Pearl District Association forum:

The obvious follow-up question came toward the end of the forum:

"Doesn't all zoning infringe on property rights, and if so, why is the idea of conservation district different from that? Why is it a further infringement on property rights that are already infringed by zoning?"

Gomez's verbatim reply: "We already regulate land use. We already regulate what you can and cannot do with your property. When people buy a property, they look at what the policies are, they understand what the zoning is, and if that should change, there has to be a--it's a fine line, I believe, between private property rights and zoning, and absent of covenants that are not easily enforceable, when you buy a property in an older neighborhood--I live in an older neighborhood--you do understand that these things may happen and it, um..." As his voice trailed off to a mumble, he sat down.

Rather than engaging in reasoned debate about the issue, Gomez is taking shots at people who supported him four years ago, whose votes he needs to win this election.

Gomez made his pitch to the voters in an op-ed in the current issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. (Maria Barnes had her say last week.) Gomez had this to say about NCD supporters:

Neither the politically connected special interest nor the screams of the tyrannical minority should be able to trample on their neighbors personal property rights.

So I'm part of a screaming tyrannical minority who want to trample on their neighbors' personal property rights. And here's what he thinks of his opponent, Councilor Maria Barnes, who supports the idea of NCDs:

Our current city councilor is a nice human being, but manically obsessed with special interests.

While he obviously doesn't like the draft NCD, he doesn't single out any provision as dangerous, but says that "the lack of specifics within the proposal could significantly harm all neighborhoods." The proposal is in fact very specific, as specific as the zoning code provision that enables Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), a form of zoning overlay that is very popular with developers.

In the debate over how we protect the character of some of our city's greatest assets -- our Midtown neighborhoods -- Gomez has opted to attack rather than offer a solution. That's a great disappointment to me.

I first got to know Eric in 1998 when we were both involved in the Infill Task Force zoning subcommittee, which discussed a proposed NCD ordinance that was much more far-reaching than the current proposal. Eric endorsed me when I ran for City Council in 2002 (as did Maria). I was happy to endorse him during his 2004 run, noting his record as a defender of his neighborhood's integrity and character, fighting against development that would have intruded on the residential part of the neighborhood.

When I received an e-mail from a very vocal anti-NCD advocate claiming that Gomez absolutely opposed NCDs, I found it hard to believe, based on his record.

So I e-mailed Eric on March 9, asking him if the claim was true, and asking him to reply with what he would change about the proposed NCD draft (which I included as an attachment) to make it something he could support. Here's what I wrote:

Eric,

Congratulations on your primary win!

Neighborhood Conservation Districts have been in the news lately, and I have some questions for you about your position on the issue.

You'll recall that we served together on the zoning and subdivision regulations subcommittee of the Infill Task Force, back in 1998-1999, along with Sharry White, Scott Swearingen, and Charles Norman. We discussed the concept of neighborhood conservation districts and even reviewed a draft ordinance that had been prepared by INCOG staff.

I was convinced then and remain convinced that we need to move beyond our one-size-fits-all zoning code. Just like Oklahoma City and many other cities in our region, Tulsa should have rules in place that are objective and clear but customized for each neighborhood, allowing infill while protecting the character of the neighborhood. The issue was at the heart of my 2002 campaign for City Council and the reason I won the support of nearly every neighborhood leader in District 4. My position also earned me the opposition of the Tulsa World and the developers' lobby.

So I'm happy to see that at long last there's a working draft of a Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance before the TMAPC, even if it is very limited in scope.

Unfortunately, some people are spreading fear and falsehoods about the proposal. I've been forwarded several e-mails from Martha Thomas Cobb, who seems to be leading the opposition to NCDs. She seems to think you're on her side on this issue. In one message, she wrote: "Also, I vistied with Eric Gomez who is running against Maria Barnes. He opposes this ordinance because of the property rights issue. Good to know. He is a good man and understands the property rights infringement and property price drop that will follow with more restrictions."

That doesn't fit with my understanding of your position, but I want to be sure my understanding is correct. So I've attached a copy of the working draft NCD ordinance. I'd ask you to read it and answer the following questions:

1. If you were on the City Council, would you vote to approve this ordinance as written?

2. If not, what specific changes would have to be made to this ordinance in order for you to vote for it?

3. If you wouldn't support an NCD ordinance under any circumstances, are there any other measures you would approve as a city councilor to protect the character of our midtown neighborhoods against inappropriate infill?

I'd like to be able to reassure neighborhood leaders and other homeowners that no matter who wins the District 4 election, our councilor will move forward with a Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance.

Thanks,

Michael Bates

Instead of replying by e-mail, Eric phoned me. He didn't want to get specific about his objections to the draft NCD ordinance, but repeated his concern about "functional obsolescence" (nothing in the ordinance prevents the demolition and replacement of a functionally obsolescent building -- or any other building for that matter) and said that he thought it was being rushed along. He also said he didn't have time to study the issue and rewrite the ordinance in the midst of a campaign.

I told Eric I thought it was important for him to spell out his philosophy of zoning and land-use and to explain how he would address the concerns raised by teardowns and McMansions in Midtown if not with an NCD ordinance. I told him that he would need the support of people who are concerned about the issue.

I had hoped that Gomez's race this year against Maria Barnes would be a situation where both candidates would be solid on neighborhood and planning issues. I have had my differences with Barnes over her support for the City Hall move and her opposition to the Council resolution requesting immigration status checks to be run on people taken into custody by the Tulsa Police Department. I wish she were tougher on budget issues.

Gomez has apparently changed since his last race, but it's hard to know why. His campaign manager is (and was in 2004) Jim Burdge, who worked on the unsuccessful 2005 campaign to recall City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, an effort heavily funded by the development lobby. Gomez's op-ed is reminiscent in style of the Tulsa Tribunal attack tabloidsused during the recall campaign, which smeared the councilors as mentally and emotionally unbalanced.

This year the Tulsa Whirled has endorsed Gomez making Barnes' support for NCDs the main reason to vote her out of office. The Whirled condemned me for the same reason, although they were unwilling to say so in their editorial. The fact that they have to address the concept of zoning reform and attack it openly, rather than sweep it under the rug, is a sign of progress.

(Is it just me, or are there striking parallels between the Whirled's editorial and Gomez's op-ed? They seem to hit exactly the same talking points.)

I've been supporting the neighborhood conservation district concept for more than a decade, but I could still tolerate having a City Councilor who was opposed to the idea but willing to discuss it. I can't accept having a City Councilor who thinks people on the other side of the debate are screaming tyrants.

UPDATE: BatesLine appears to be the exclusive source of information about the Tulsa City Council pre-election ethics filings. The Tulsa Whirled normally publishes a story listing contributions the day after the filings, but they didn't bother this time, perhaps because the report of their favorite candidate contained some embarrassing contributions -- see below for details.

Here is an overview of the pre-general election Form C-1 ethics reports filed with the Tulsa City Clerk's office by 5 p.m. today, the deadline for the pre-general filing for next Tuesday's Tulsa City Council general election. This will not be a complete accounting, as I was at the clerk's office just before 5 p.m., the clerk's office employee seemed to be new on the job, and I didn't check my copies before I got out the door, so I didn't get copies of any attachments.

What is striking is the lack of contributions during this filing period. It may be that some campaigns were waiting to receive contributions and make expenditures until after the filing period ended last Monday, March 17.

DISTRICT 3 INDEPENDENT:

David Patrick:

Carryover = $8,777.80
Contributions = $2,998.00
Expenditures = $8,954.67

Total of contributions over $200 = $1,500.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,498.00

$500 - Robert Parmele, George R. Kravis III
$250 - Terry Young, Steve Turnbo

DISTRICT 4 DEMOCRAT:

Maria Barnes:

Carryover = $18,981.71
Contributions = $1,100.00
Expenditures = $7,729.13

Total of contributions over $200 = $500.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $600.00

$500 - Richard Sevenoaks

John L. Nidiffer:

Carryover = $5,100.00
Contributions = $2,600.00
Expenditures = $4,249.43

Total of contributions over $200 = $2,500
Total of contributions $200 or less = $100

$2,500 - John L. Nidiffer


DISTRICT 4 REPUBLICAN:

Jason Eric Gomez:

Carryover = $1,150.00
Contributions = $1,800.00
Expenditures = $3,072.25

Total of contributions over $200 = $1,250
Total of contributions $200 or less = $550

$1,000 - Harold Tompkins
$250 - Frank Henke IV

DISTRICT 6 DEMOCRAT:

Dennis K. Troyer:

Carryover = $6,082.57
Contributions = $310.00
Expenditures = $3,632.75

Total of contributions over $200 = $0
Total of contributions $200 or less = $310


DISTRICT 6 REPUBLICAN:

Kevin Boggs:

Carryover = $350.00
Contributions = $1018.23
Expenditures = $400.00

Total of contributions over $200 = $350
Total of contributions $200 or less = $668.23

$350 - April and Jeff Cash

DISTRICT 8 REPUBLICAN:

Bill Christiansen:

Carryover = $1,170.23
Contributions = $12,950.00
Expenditures = $6,820.89

Total of contributions over $200 = $10,300.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $2,650.00

[Christiansen's contributor list was on an attachment, which didn't get copied.]

DISTRICT 9 REPUBLICAN:

G. T. Bynum:

Carryover = $45,283.28
Contributions = $3,150.86
Expenditures = $18,932.83

Total of contributions over $200 = $1,475.86
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,675.00

[Bynum's contributor list was on an attachment, which didn't get copied.]

Notes and analysis:

Note that David Patrick received large contributions from Bob Parmele and Terry Young, both executives with Cinnabar, the company that managed the airport noise abatement program before their contract was not renewed in 2005. District 3 contains a number of neighborhoods that were included (or should have been) in the noise program, and there were numerous complaints of shoddy work by Cinnabar and its subcontractors. It's telling that Cinnabar officials would back David Patrick and would want to defeat Roscoe Turner. Turner actually paid attention to the concerns of affected homeowners and pushed to see those concerns addressed by the Tulsa Airport Authority.

The pre-primary report has the names and amounts of contributors prior to Feb. 25. Looking at that again, I noticed the large carryover amount -- $5,226 -- on David Patrick's pre-primary report, money that he had accumulated in an earlier reporting period. The report for that earlier period should be on file, and it would be interesting to know who those earlier contributors were. It's a clever way of downplaying contributors that you don't want publicized. The daily paper typically only reports on pre-election ethics reports; post-election and quarterly reports are ignored. Candidates are sometimes sloppy about filing those other reports because they know the paper isn't paying attention. That's a gap that alternative media sources need to fill.

On Sunday, former TV news reporter and anchor Karen Keith announced her campaign for Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner, a seat held since 2002 by Randi Miller.

My desire to see Randi Miller replaced is no secret. While I've applauded her efforts to return the jail to the control of the sheriff's office and her support for County Assessor Ken Yazel's budget and financial reforms, she's been a disaster on sales tax issues, on the Bixby Bridge issue, and on the management of the fairgrounds. She was even willing to lend her name to the effort to dilute democracy by adding at-large councilors to the City Council. On the City Council she had been a fiscal conservative, publicly opposing "It's Tulsa's Time," the 2000 effort to pass an arena sales tax. But since joining the County Commission, Miller has given no resistance to efforts to expand the size and scope of county government. She was even willing to jump into the Arkansas River for a photo op in support of the plan to flood the west bank and build islands in the middle of the river, something that would have cost taxpayers $600 million.

I was called a few days before the announcement by someone who, like me, publicly opposed last October's proposed Tulsa County river sales tax. This person asked if I would be willing to meet and talk about possibly supporting Karen.

I've known Karen for almost 27 years, and I like her. Way back in May 1981, I did my high school's required internship month at KGCT 41, a short-lived attempt at news/talk TV, with studios in the Lerner Shops building, on the Main Mall north of 5th St. I went along with Karen on a couple of stories, and I enjoyed getting to know her.

In 1991, we met up again when she was head of the Brookside Business Association, which was the initial focal point of the effort to stop the 39th & Peoria Albertson's. (The neighborhood was protesting the loss of street-fronting retail to a parking lot and a major commercial incursion into the residential area. That effort spawned the Brookside Neighborhood Association; I was a member of the initial board.)

In 2001, Karen was one of the founders of TulsaNow, an organization that I joined shortly after it got off the ground. Like the other founders, Karen's main focus was, in the wake of two straight defeats for arena sales taxes, to get something passed. (Many of us were more interested in land use and planning issues, which became one of the main focuses of the organization after the passage of Vision 2025.) During the Vision 2025 campaign in 2003, former County Assessor Jack Gordon and I debated Karen on a couple of occasions. More recently, she worked for the Chamber of Commerce during the recent Tulsa County river sales tax vote.

My ideal candidate for County Commissioner would refocus the county on handling the county's responsibilities, instead of trying to turn the county into a kind of metro government. Leave the business of municipal government to the municipalities, and leave them with the sales tax that municipal government depends upon. I live in District 2, and there is a necessary (although not sufficient) condition for my support: A candidate must commit to ending the Four to Fix the County and Vision 2025 sales taxes as soon as all the projects are paid for (including the Vision 2025 low-water dams) and not seeking to renew either of them or to enact a new sales tax.

From the quotes in the daily paper's story about Karen Keith's announcement, I don't think she passes the test.

"I really would like to see us bring back the cohesiveness that we had before, during Vision 2025, with the surrounding areas," she said.

"Things have gotten a little fractured, and I would like to be a part of bringing everybody back together."

A unified front is exactly what's needed to deal with the state Legislature, she said.

"Pushing as a unified body with our Legislature to seek other sources of funding (would) make some pretty dramatic changes in how that's done," Keith said.

She chose to run for a county office because of its potential to be a "big-picture position."

"Its scope is very different from the city," she said.

Driving down 15th St. today, I passed the little sandstone-sided house at 15th and Trenton and noticed a sign in front that said "Karen Keith / County Commissioner." It was a very fancy sign, the sort that would go on a lawyer's office with the intent of staying there for decades, not something you'd put on a temporary campaign headquarters. It appeared to be enamel on stainless steel. A wavy green line appeared on the sign, part of her logo, I guess.

Maybe I'm reading too much into a sign, but it tells me that Karen Keith's campaign has plenty of money to spend, that she's financed by people with deep pockets, and that passing a river tax will be one of her priorities as County Commissioner.

I like Karen Keith as a person, but I hope someone else steps forward to run against Randi Miller.

The race for Tulsa City Council District 4 is one of the most hotly contested in this year's general election. First-term incumbent Maria Barnes, a Democrat, is being challenged by Eric Gomez, a Republican. My column in this issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly is an account of the District 4 candidate forum, held on March 11 and sponsored by the Pearl District Association. It was one of the most informative forums I've ever attended, focused on zoning, planning, and land use issues, particularly Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs).

Here's the audio for the event. (Flash plugin required):



(You do need to have the Shockwave Flash plugin installed in order for the player to work. If you'd prefer to download the 7 MB MP3 file, here's a direct link: Tulsa City Council District 4 candidate forum, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez, sponsored by Pearl District Association.)

Here is the text of Maria Barnes's NCD "mythbusters" handout, which I mention in the story.

Also, in this issue of UTW: RELATED:

Charles G. Hill, who lives in an Urban Conservation District in Oklahoma City (very similar to Tulsa's proposed NCDs), explains the aims and impact of such a designation.

My column two weeks ago was about the specifics of the draft Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance for Tulsa.

The February column linked in this entry dealt with the theoretical rationale behind NCDs and the political aspects of the development industry's opposition.

Here is the draft Neighborhood Conservation District enabling ordinance (45 KB PDF) and here is the report on NCDs by Council policy administrator Jack Blair (1.5 MB PDF).

This entry links to my conversation about NCDs on Darryl Baskin's real estate radio show.

Here's an earlier blog entry that links to my November 2007 column on NCDs and has many links on the topics of teardowns, McMansions, and neighborhood conservation.
Here's audio for last night's Pearl District Association's candidate forum for the District 4 Tulsa City Council race. The forum lasted about an hour. Jamie Jamieson, developer of the Village at Central Park, is the moderator, and the candidates are Maria Barnes (incumbent) and Eric Gomez:



(You do need to have the Shockwave Flash plugin installed in order for the player to work. If you'd prefer to download the 7 MB MP3 file, here's a direct link: Tulsa City Council District 4 candidate forum, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez, sponsored by Pearl District Association.)

At some point, I may have time to post a summary of the discussion. In the meantime, please share your impressions, whether you were one of the 30 in attendance or just listened to the audio, in the comments below.

Candidates for the District 4 seat on the Tulsa City Council will face off tonight (Tuesday, March 11) in a forum sponsored by the Pearl District Association. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., at the Central Center (aka "The Boathouse") in Central Park, on the south side of 6th Street, west of Peoria. Councilor Maria Barnes and challenger Eric Gomez will answer written questions from the audience.

I would expect quite a few questions related to zoning and land use planning. The Pearl District is seeking to be a pilot area for form-based codes -- a kind of land use regulation that focuses on the form of the building rather than the use its being put to. Neighborhood Conservation District zoning is another topic that is sure to come up; it works within traditional zoning to seek consistency of building form in a neighborhood within broad criteria.

I've heard that a number of opponents of NCDs plan to be present to make some noise. I hope supporters of the idea will be there as well to show their support for planning that accommodates new development while preserving the character of our midtown neighborhoods.

Sorry for the late notice, but I only just learned about it myself.

UPDATE: It was very informative. Most of the questions, submitted by the audience, were advanced-level questions on land-use planning and zoning. The candidates had plenty of time to give thoughtful answers, and Jamie Jamieson, the moderator, did a good job of adding context to the questions where appropriate. I will post audio here sometime tomorrow morning.

Jack's back!

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As Winston Churchill said, "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."

I imagine Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson is feeling quite exhilarated tonight, as he has survived a very well-financed challenge, winning a third term with over 55% of the vote in District 1. All the candidates who filed for the office were Democrats, so Henderson is back in.

It's another defeat for the Tulsa Whirled editorial board, which endorsed Midtown-financed River Tax backer Emanuel Lewis.

Among other things, this means that we now know that at least four of the nine councilors will be familiar faces. Councilors Rick Westcott, John Eagleton, and Bill Martinson did not draw an opponent.

District 4 could be a very competitive race. Incumbent Democrat Maria Barnes won renomination handily, with 75%, and 2004 Republican nominee Eric Gomez received 65% of the vote. Although the district leans Democrat, and the incumbent will have an advantage, Gomez nearly beat incumbent Tom Baker four years ago.

In District 9, Phil Kates, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination two years ago won today over Roger Lowry. Kates will face Republican nominee G. T. Bynum and independent candidate Paul Tay on April 1. District 9 is one of three districts (5 and 7 are the other two) that has never elected a Democratic councilor.

(Districts 1 and 3 have never elected Republicans, although District 3 councilor Darrell Gilbert was a Republican when he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Mike Patrick. Gilbert changed parties, was defeated for re-election by David Patrick, then ran successfully for State House District 72.)

In two of the primaries there were three candidates, which meant there was a chance that someone could win without a majority since Tulsa city elections don't have runoffs, but that didn't happen.

Turnout was highest in the most competitive race -- 2,600 voters in District 1. The Democratic and Republican District 4 races brought out about 981 and 790 voters, respectively. Only 330 Democrats turned out in District 9. An aggressive and well-organized campaign -- I'm thinking of Anna Falling's 1998 run -- could have easily changed the outcomes.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Election 2008 category from March 2008.

Tulsa Election 2008: February 2008 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Election 2008: April 2008 is the next archive.

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