Political Races Heat Up in Tulsa County
By D.J. MORROW INGRAM
It’s been said, “All politics is local.” In the Tulsa area this year, it has proven it can also be expensive, brutal and fascinating.
Contentious races in the Democratic and Republican mayoral primaries drew a record turnout of nearly 59,000 voters in the Tulsa municipal primary election March 7.
The next stop is the April 4 general election where voters will choose who will lead Tulsa through the final four years of this decade and round out the selection of city councilors. Area communities have their own political debates abounding as city councilors will be elected in Bixby and Sand Springs and school bond and general bond elections are held in Skiatook, Owasso, Glenpool and Bixby.
Tulsa’s primary election resulted in a few surprises including the District 4 contest where 76-year-old retiree Robert C. Bartlett snagged the Republican nomination despite that he had unofficially withdrawn from the race outpolling two opponents, one of whom had the endorsement of U.S. Rep. John Sullivan. He will face Democrat Maria Barnes on April 4.
Voters clearly rejected the negative campaign mounted against former Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Kathy Taylor by former state legislator Don McCorkell. Taylor won handily with her head held high with 64 percent of the Democratic votes while repeatedly calling for a campaign on issues.
Mayor Bill LaFortune won his party’s nomination with 43 percent of the vote, defeating challenges by City Councilor Chris Medlock, who surprised some by garnering 35 percent of the Republican vote and Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller who took 22 percent.
District 1 Councilor Jack Henderson faced no opposition and District 8’s Bill Christiansen will return despite being given a run for his money by political newcomer, Cliff Magee, who came within 730 votes of the incumbent.
Three city council incumbents—Roscoe Turner, District 3, William Martinson, District 5 and James Mautino, District 6—have drawn opponents—Gerald Rapson, Jon Kirby and Dennis K. Troyer, respectively—for the general election.
There will be four new faces on the council. Rick Wescott will step into Chris Medlock’s spot in District 2 and John Eagleton will take the District 7 spot vacated by Randy Sullivan by virtue of winning their Republican primaries as no Democrats filed for those seats. The District 9 seat being vacated by Susan Neal will be filled by the winner of the match up between Cason Carter and Phil Kates. The winner in the Bartlett/Barnes race for District 4 will bring the fourth new face to the table.
The city auditor’s race pits longtime incumbent Phil Wood against Michael Willis, an aide to Mayor LaFortune.
Also on the Tulsa ballot will be six proposed amendments to the Tulsa City Charter:
Proposition 1: Allowing the council to employ attorneys independent from the supervision or management of the city attorney to assist the council in its duties.
Proposition 2: Requiring resolutions that are approved by the city to be published.
Proposition 3: Requiring members of city boards, commissions, authorities and agencies to be residents and qualified electors of the city.
Proposition 4: Setting municipal election dates and terms of office to correspond with state law with elections to be set by the county election board.
Proposition 5: Setting requirements for petitions seeking recall of an elected official, including that only qualified electors residing in an election district may circulate a supporting petition for recall; each signature on a recall petition must correspond with the name of the petitioner appearing in the voter registration books; a valid contact telephone number of each petition signer must be specified in the petition; and petitions must contain signatures equal to 25 percent of those voting in the election district for the affected office in the preceding mayoral general election.
Proposition 6: Requiring the mayor to make appointments subject to confirmation by the council within 60 days or such other time as the council may authorize and authorizing the council to make the appointments if the mayor fails to do so.