The Tulsa Metro Chamber announced today its work to identify issues it says will move Tulsa forward and is now seeking supportive city council candidates.
Candidate recruitment programs are chamber-led efforts to identify and encourage individuals to seek reelection or an elected office. Recognizing the impact individuals in office have on conducting business and encouraging growth, Chamber leaders are taking a proactive approach to political involvement and leadership.
The Chamber selected 11 issues it maintains are critical to reinvigorate and mobilize the City of Tulsa. These initiatives range from stances on regional planning, infrastructure, and downtown and river development, to more complex issues such as support of the City Charter, infill development and education reform.
“This is not a litmus test, but rather we want city leaders without rhetoric and with the demonstrated ability to move the city forward with civility,” said David Page, chair of the Chamber’s local political action committee, TulsaBizPac, and market president for organ Chase.
The Chamber’s TulsaBizPac allows individuals to collectively participate in the political process by identifying and supporting individuals who are concerned with reforming issues which impact business’ competitive edge. The bi-partisan leadership intends to support candidates based on his and her stance on these issues, but also those with a proven track record of diplomacy and leadership.
“We’ve been outspoken about the damage Tulsa’s local politics caused to our ability to recruit new businesses, regional headquarters, and encourage capital investment,” said Mike Neal, president and . “Negative discourse between the Office of the Mayor and City Council members are an obstacle to economic development and improving citizens’ quality of life.”
The Chamber contracted with Steve Turnbo, Schnake Turnbo Frank | PR, to engage in discussions with individuals seeking more information about the ins and outs of running for office. It also contracted with Karl Ahlgren, AH Strategies, to educate Chamber leadership on developments regarding City Council redistricting. Both contracts are paid for through Chamber membership revenue; no public investment funds were used to underwrite these services.
“Last year, Chamber leaders were firm in their decision to increase political involvement through the establishment of the ,” said Page. “The November City Council election is the first opportunity to employ the , but the program will continue through future city and county elections, including the mayoral race. The work performed now will ensure the will not arbitrarily support candidates this fall, but will have the information needed to make well-informed decisions.”
A plan regarding City Council redistricting is expected in May and the candidate filing deadline is July 11-13. The next step in the process includes interviews with announced incumbents and prospective candidates regarding the 11 identified issues and more.
“We currently have one of the most effective working relationships with members of the City Council that I’ve experienced since joining the Chamber team in 2006,” said Neal. “We look forward to sharing and discussing our priorities and how councilors seeking reelection intend to drive progress in the future.”
Contributions to TulsaBizPac are limited to $5,000 per person per year. Only individuals are allowed to contribute; no corporate or union donations are allowed. Contributions to a are not tax deductible. No public investment funds are used in the administration of the .
The 11 platform issues the Chamber will share with incumbents and prospective candidates include: 1) regionalism; 2) support of city charter; 3) education issues; 4) support for the next “vision” package; 5) neighborhood associations and infill development; 6) intermodal facilities and transportation; 7) river development; 8) renewal of “fix our streets” package; 9) downtown revitalization; 10) coordinated efforts on tourism development; and 11) diversity and inclusion issues.