Five former mayors have endorsed G.T. Bynum. No former mayors have endorsed Dewey Bartlett. Two County Commissioners have endorsed G.T. Bynum and the third has stated he will not vote for Bartlett. In a Fox23 “live” straw texting poll during the last debate, people were encouraged to answer this question: Who has the best plan for Tulsa’s future? 75% of those responding chose G.T. Bynum while only 25% favored Mayor Bartlett.
Smart Growth Tulsa has already published a position paper endorsing G.T. Bynum, based upon observance of his record in office and a comparison of the two candidates’ answers to some very challenging questions we asked of them.
Dewey Bartlett has had seven years to prove his worth, with precious little to show for it but obstructionist policies that have held us back. G.T. Bynum has played a major leadership role in virtually every important matter before the city of Tulsa and he has an impressive track record.
G.T. Bynum is young, energetic, enthusiastic and is the only candidate calling on Tulsans to raise the bar for their expectations of a brighter future for our city. Dewey Bartlett appears old and tired; his enthusiasm is underwhelming and he often seems lethargic and disengaged.
G.T. Bynum has run a positive campaign; an inspiring campaign with a goal of bridging the divide that separates us and challenging us to dream big dreams. He has talked about the issues, and shared his plans and vision for a brighter future.
Dewey Bartlett has predictably engaged in yet another negative campaign that can only further divide us. He doesn’t want to talk about his lackluster track record and compounds that by claiming responsibility for work done by others. He takes credit for new jobs that he had nothing to do with creating, and ignores the loss of thousands of jobs during his administration.
Bartlett boasts of all of the public and private development downtown that he had virtually no part in creating. The BOK Center was made possible by the leadership of then Mayor Bill LaFortune, and County Commissioner Bob Dick, during a more cooperative era of city/county relations; something that would likely not be possible today.
Mayor Bartlett is always quick to trash former Mayor Kathy Taylor who was almost single-handily responsible for insuring Tulsa’s new and highly successful baseball stadium ended up in Downtown Tulsa, not Jenks.
Kathy Taylor also played a significant role in purchasing Tulsa’s state-of-the-art City Hall building for pennies on the dollar, which Dewey Bartlett has since threatened to sell. After a few years of challenging times the iconic One Technology Center is now performing very nicely, thank you very much. Kathy Taylor also provided the leadership to commission PlaniTulsa, which in spite of Mayor Bartlett’s foot dragging has led to the first new comprehensive plan in 30 years and an updated zoning code to implement it.
I ask you, where is Dewey Bartlett’s aha-moment, his claim to fame, his crowning achievement? What role has he played in providing the leadership for any municipal development of significance? Anyone? Anything? Hello?
Perhaps the crowning absurdity of the Bartlett misinformation campaign is his apparent newfound love for public transportation, implying that he had something to do with the dedicated transit funding in Vision Tulsa. That effort was actually championed by Councilors Ewing, Bynum and Lakin. Since day one, Dewey Bartlett has been no friend of public transportation, quite the contrary. He has submitted budgets calling for cuts in transit funding and delayed for years the much heralded north/south Bus Rapid Transit service because he was unwilling to identify about $700K (1%) in operating costs from a general fund budget of over $700 million.
Dewey Bartlett has created an antagonistic atmosphere with county officials and employed bullying tactics that have led to years of troubling discord and mistrust. Not exactly a recipe for successful intergovernmental relations.
G.T. Bynum is a peace-maker, a bridge builder, and an accomplished negotiator. He has a sought to build positive and respectful relationships with County Commissioners and public safety unions, key partners with the City of Tulsa in providing effective and efficient governance and protection for our citizens.
Let’s examine Mayor Bartlett’s record. He frequently touts his fiscally responsible management of the city’s assets. A closer look however exposes an entirely different picture. Early in his first term, Bartlett agreed to sell the old city hall building for just over a $1,000,000, and in the negotiations, he also agreed to provide a driveway for vehicular access on the plaza that it was not designed for it to the buyers. Turns out, that opening of 5th Street will ultimately cost taxpayers about 10 times the sales price, not exactly a stellar real estate transaction.
Bartlett also masterminded the sweetheart deal to sell park land at 71st and Riverside held in trust for the city to an out of state real estate developer for well below its market value. Most of the process utilized to shape the deal that includes a plan to build a 52,000 square foot strip mall on coveted park land was done behind closed doors in executive sessions of the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority, hardly a pillar of transparency.
In Vision Tulsa marketing campaigns, the mayor touted the need for funding an additional 16 emergency call operators but then sought to de-fund the same number of positions from the general fund right after the election. He brags about funding new police officers without raising taxes, but did it by stealing one-third of any future Vision programs that could have gone to economic development programs and quality of life improvements. Bartlett may not technically be associated with any tax increases, but his policies make it certain that future elected officials will have no option but to ask voters to make up the losses forced on the Vision and Improve our Tulsa programs. How convenient, and utterly disingenuous of him to do that for his own political gain at the expense of what is best for the community.
Mayor Bartlett has consistently ignored the city’s very able planning department, favoring input from his hand-picked economic development team, often with disastrous results as evidenced by the loss of the Simons Mall to Jenks. Mayor Bartlett is simply out of touch with the values of most Tulsans, as he demonstrated by his initial resistance to a sidewalk serving A Gathering Place. He ignores the pleas of citizen and neighborhood organizations who place a high value on parks and open space, seeking input only from real estate developers, special interests and campaign donors.
A lot of people in Tulsa are disengaged and not really paying attention to what is going on at City Hall. You may be one of them, I don’t know. What I do know is that the people who are paying attention are almost universally pleading with you to give G.T. Bynum a chance. Please listen to them, there is a very compelling reason to do so. If Tulsa is going to grow and be competitive with our peer cities in the future, we need new leadership at the top, now.
Editor’s Note: Unless otherwise noted, the views expressed on this web site are those of our contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of Smart Growth Tulsa, its Trustees or Advisory Board members, or our affiliate member organizations unless specifically stated.