Tulsa Mayoral Race Taking Shape

Associate Editor

MAYORAL CANDIDATES: From left, Dewey Bartlett Jr. – The veteran businessman and politician says that his campaign “will focus on transparency in City Hall and creating jobs to grow the tax base, not the size of city government.” Tom Adelson – He wants to “build unity with the city council” and supports city development that “respects the integrity of neighborhoods.” He beat Bartlett in the 2004 Oklahoma Senate race. Chris Medlock – Saying he is not a midtown millionaire, Medlock explains that he drives a Dodge. The former city councilor and radio talk show host may get the support of Sally Bell of the Tulsa County Republican Party.

The announcement of Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor’s decision not to run for re-election set off a firestorm of rumors and speculation of possible candidates for the upcoming race in the fall. Some of the rumors have come to fruition as candidates begin to emerge, announcing their intentions to seek the office for the next mayor of Tulsa. By the end of the filling date a virtual stampede of office seekers had ensued.

One of the first candidates to announce was Republican Dewey Bartlett, Jr., owner and president of Keener Oil & Gas Company, a third generation, family-owned Tulsa business dating back to the early 1900s. Bartlett served on the Tulsa City Council from 1990 to 1996 and ran for mayor in 1992 against Susan Savage in a special election called to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Roger Randle. Bartlett ran for office again in 2004, this time for the Oklahoma State Senate District 33 seat where he lost a close race to Tom Adelson.

The Bartlett family name has long been known in Oklahoma politics. Dewey Bartlett’s father, Dewey F. Bartlett, was only the second Republican governor elected in state history. He would go on to serve in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 1979.

Mayoral candidate Bartlett sees economic development and job creation as the most pressing issues facing Tulsa.

“Our campaign will focus on transparency in City Hall and creating jobs to grow the tax base, not the size of city government,” says Bartlett.

He has also been a strong supporter of the PlaniTulsa initiative to update the city’s comprehensive development plan.

“I’m a long-time proponent of citizen participation in developing the policies and programs that most effect their lives and that is what PlaniTulsa is about.”

Joining Bartlett on the Republican primary ballot was Clay Clark who officially announced his candidacy in June. After Chris Medlock entered the race, Clark withdrew to support Medlock. Clark attempted early on in his campaign to portray Bartlett as a Republican in name only by proclaiming in emails, “…if Dewey Bartlett, Jr. is a Republican, then Michael Jackson was normal looking.” This would have been Clark’s second run for mayor. He is 28 years old.

Rumors circulated after Mayor Taylor’s announcement that two other registered Republicans were considering running. District 8 City Councilor Bill Christianson was the subject of some speculation. However, Christianson put rumors to rest on July 3 when he announced his decision to run for reelection to the City Council.

Rumors persisted regarding a Chris Medlock candidacy until July 8 when he announced his candidacy at the Tulsa Press Club. Medlock is a former City Councilor from District 2 and former talk show host on 1170 radio where he gathered a loyal audience of supporters. He has made a living criticizing City Hall over the years and will most likely receive the endorsement of Sally Bell, chair of the Tulsa County Republican Party.

At his announcement press conference and to the surprise of few, Medlock began his campaign by claiming the role of maverick. “I’m not a millionaire. I don’t drive a Maserati, I drive a Dodge. But I provide an interesting question for the voters of Tulsa: Can somebody who is not a midtown millionaire or the progeny of a famous political family become mayor of Tulsa?” In addition he contends the city has too long been controlled by “a handful of families and business people,” and he is offering a new direction for the city. He also pledged to pursue no new taxes and to shift the city’s focus from downtown development to the other “98 percent” of the city. Medlock could prove to be a serious contender for the Republican Party’s candidate for mayor in the primary provided he garnishes enough support outside his core constituency of supporters.

On the Democratic side, State Senator Tom Adelson, who on June 7 was quoted in the media as “looking at the race,” apparently liked what he saw because on July 2 he made it official with an announcement kickoff under the heading, “A Bold New Vision for Tulsa.” He stated if elected his focus would be “on smart development and building unity with the City Council.” Adelson, an attorney, is a life long, fifth generation Tulsan and has often stated he believes the city needs to be more friendly for development but that development has to respect the integrity of the neighborhoods. He favors maintaining public safety personnel at current levels.

“We don’t need to be cutting folks. Our police, fire and emergency responders do a good job.”

Adelson edged out Bartlett in the 2004 state senate race 51 to 49 percent. Both candidates are seasoned campaigners and have proven fundraising potential and organizational capabilities. Local politicos believe the general election for mayor will most likely be an Adelson versus Bartlett race. But Medlock could be a strong contender in the Republican primary.

As the filing for office dates approached the number of formerly announced mayoral contenders was five minus one (Clark) for a total left standing of four. Not mentioned yet is Democrat Robert Gwin, Jr. To date little is known of his candidacy and platform.

Filing dates were July 13, 14 and 15. After the dust had settled, Tulsa County Election Board records show a total of 19 Tulsans had officially declared their candidacy for mayor. All the usual perennial contenders plus a few new hopefuls tossed their hats into the ring. In addition to Bartlett and Medlock, nine more Republicans filed. They are: David Lee O’Conner, Paul Alan Roales, Michael David Tomes Sr., Norris Stuart Streetman, Kevin Leroy Boggs, John Porter Todd, Cleon Burrell, Anna Lara Falling and Michael Lee Rush. In addition to Adelson and Gwin on the Democratic side, three candidates are running: Paul C. Tay Jr., A. Burns and Prophet Kelly Lamar Clark Sr. Also filing were three independents: Nathaniel James Booth, Lawrence F. Kirkpatrick and Mark Bradley Perkins.

The primary election will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 8 and the general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 8. In upcoming issues of Newspapers we will keep readers informed as to how Tulsa’s mayoral race is shaping up.

Updated 07-20-2009

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