By EMILY RAMSEY
TULSA COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: District 3 County Commissioner Ron Peters stands in the Tulsa County offices in downtown Tulsa. Peters has held his county commissioner seat since 2013 and will continue to hold it until 2022, after winning reelection in June. Peters serves as the Chair of the Tulsa County Commissioners.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
Editor’s Note: Tulsa County Commission Chairman Ron Peters is one of Greater Tulsa Reporter’s “10 to Watch in Greater Tulsa 2018,” as announced in its January 2018 issue. was the first news group in Greater Tulsa to introduce “10 People to Watch,” which launched in January 2009.
Throughout the year, is publishing a series of articles, featuring each of its “10 to Watch,” with next month’s issue to feature Owasso Chamber of Commerce Gary Akin.
Ron Peters’ history in public service began in 2000, but his history in Tulsa began at birth.
A native Tulsan, Peters is an Edison High School graduate; he holds his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa.
Peters spent 30 years working in the oil and gas industry, some of those years not in Tulsa. “It was when I had a three-hour-per-day commute in Philadelphia that I really knew that I wanted to return and stay in Tulsa,” he remembers.
Peters also served as president of his public relations firm, Relations Inc., which focused largely on community relations regarding superfund sites.
With many of his positions providing him opportunity to be exposed to government work, he learned much, he notes, and that opened his eyes to the opportunities in government and public service.
Therefore, when a seat in the House of Representatives opened in 2000, he decided to run. After winning the seat, he held it until he retired in 2012.
However, he didn’t relax for long.
In 2013, when Fred Perry announced that he would leave his county commissioner seat early, Peters was asked whether he would run to fill the seat. After some encouragement, he did so and has served successfully ever since as District 3 county commissioner. Most recently, in June, he ran for reelection, receiving 56 percent of the vote, securing his seat until 2022.
While those in statewide public office often deal with larger, more socially-focused issues, Peters says, “On the county level, we’re able to be more hands-on, helping locally. We have a chance to do something to make our community better.”
He counts the construction of the Family Justice Center and the jail expansion to be among those things that will improve the Tulsa community.
The Family Justice Center will house juvenile and family courts and related services and is currently under construction at the northwest edge of downtown Tulsa’s Inner Dispersal Loop.
The expansion of the jail includes mental health pods, such as various holding areas specified for individuals at various levels of stability. “These are not going to be lifetime inmates; this is a chance to help them become contributing members of society after they leave the jail,” he says.
Another feather in Peters’ and the county’s metaphorical cap is the inclusion of $30 million for Expo Square and Fairgrounds renovations in the Vision Tulsa package, passed last year.
The need for these renovations can be summed up by the economic impact from the six annual horse shows that visit Expo Square as well as its other yearly events, an annual impact to the city of $300 million, Peters says.
The Vision projects include construction of a larger horse barn in order to provide additional performance space and horse stalls: “We have to stay on top of their needs so that they keep coming back to Tulsa. We must make sure our facilities are top notch.
“A lot of communities would love to have these horse shows,” he says.
Additionally, Expo Square’s new Oklahoma Stage is currently under construction, which will help to bring in larger acts that would not come to Expo Square previously “because the current stage couldn’t sustain the needs of their acts.”
Late last year, Peters and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced the formation of the City-County Parks Realignment Commission to focus on identifying duplication within the city and county parks systems in order to ensure the future sustainability of Tulsa’s parks systems.
“The purpose of this commission is to identify efficiencies in both parks systems so we can provide an improved service to the citizens we all serve,” he continues.
That includes looking at parks and park elements that are not fully utilized, their proximity to each other and duplication of services that could be merged, he says.
Tulsa is home to four parks systems. In addition to city and county parks, Tulsa also has RiverParks and the newly-opened Gathering Place along Riverside Drive, which Peters hopes will only grow people’s appreciation for the importance of parks and green spaces.
The commission also affords the opportunity for both the city and county to pinpoint the services that they do well, says Peters. For example, the county takes pride in its care and maintenance of walking trails and its two golf courses: South Lakes and LaFortune.
The U.S. Tennis Association recently awarded top national honors to LaFortune’s Case Tennis Center.
LaFortune Park Golf Course is currently nearing the end of construction to upgrade its course. Peters hopes the course will reopen on Oct. 6, the park’s 60th anniversary.
As for the future, Peters’ next four years in office, at least, are secure.
“I enjoy helping people address their issues,” he says. “There are a lot of opportunities to create an even better quality of life in Tulsa and to encourage people to stay in Tulsa and ones to move here.”