By DEWEY F. BARTLETT, JR.
Mayor of Tulsa
As we begin 2011, I want to tell you about a first of a kind important initiative we will be launching the latter part of December.
As mayor, I believe the two most important responsibilities of the office are first, to continuously ask the citizens we serve how we are doing at governing and how can we do it better and, secondly, to listen to what they have to say and then take deliberative action. To do this well, it has to be more than just questions and answers after speeches or making phone calls and sending emails. We need an across the city inventory of citizens from all walks of Tulsa.
I am please to say that for the first time in Tulsa’s history a city-wide citizen survey is being launched to ask citizens for their opinions, concerns and suggestions on everything about city government, both currently and looking into the future. Unlike specific topic surveys of a very limited number of households used in the past, this survey will randomly reach out to 200 households in each city council district (between 1,800 and 2,000 households) and ask over 100 questions on everything from the current state of city affairs to their thoughts on economic development to questions about “what does Tulsa mean to you.”
This survey will be conducted by Shapard Research, a nationally known Oklahoma based research company with years of survey and polling experience. As Bill Shapard, president of Shapard Research says, “this is one of the most important pieces of work we have done. Normally our surveys are a few questions to a relatively small group of citizens. This survey will really mean something to the citizens and we expect a lot of information from them.”
There are at least two important uses of the information we will learn from the citizens’ responses. First, it will be used to produce an annual report to the citizens on the state of their city. Again, this is something we have never done before and something we want to see become an annual report from this point forward. Second, the information will be used to strategically plan how and where the city’s resources should be directed during the current budgeting process.
Government officials should never be afraid to ask and never be afraid to hear what views citizens have about what they want to see from their local government. Often those of us in government believe we know what citizens want or need but seldom do we confirm those positions by actually asking directly. Sometime our assumptions may be correct, sometimes not. This survey will guide us to be responsive in the ways we are serving. After all, governing should be all about you.
The survey and report should be done by the first of February. Once completed I look forward to sharing with all of you the “pulse of Tulsa.”