Mayor Dewey Bartlett called passage of the $884,100,000.00 sales tax increase “a cornerstone of my current administration.”
Bartlett will face City Councilor G.T. Bynum, Tom McCay, Paul Tay and Lawrence Kirkpatrick in a June 28 city primary.
Bartlett and Bynum had a recent debate on the Pat Campbell show on KFAQ 1170.
“We have helped create thousands and thousands of jobs throughout our city. We are in a good place. We are growing well. We are working as well as we can with the business community. Very successfully. We just passed Vision (sales tax increase). The cornerstone of my current administration was that I would come up with a way to add more police officers, etc., without a tax increase and we accomplished that with the passage of Vision Tulsa. We now have for the very first time a dedicated tax that is for the purpose of hiring a lot of new police officers, firefighters, street maintenance crews, etc.”
When Bartlett first ran, he promised no new taxes. The sales tax vote was a new tax but he calls it an “extension” because an expiring county sales tax.
“We’ve got plenty of money right now,” Bartlett said. “Like all of our families in the city, we have a budget and we live within our means, dictated by state law. We do the best with what we have. We’ve done an extremely good job of that. The trick is to find ways to make it go further with less.
“When I began as mayor, we had about 4,500 employees. Presently, we have about 3,600-3,700. We still have similar services. We are doing more with less. We have done a very, very good job of becoming more efficient in having the attitude and espousing that attitude of customer service, of doing a better job of working for the taxpayer, understanding that the need to be treated properly. At the end of the day, job creation and economic development is what makes the whole system work well.”
Bartlett said he has talked to David Boren about the proposed one-penny statewide sales tax.
“I’m opposed to it,” Bartlett said. “…Boren understands that this puts the cities in a very, very difficult position … because sales tax is a major source of revenue. In Tulsa’s case, it would almost put us at 10 percent at about 9.5 percent.”
Bartlett claims there are a lot of differences between him and Bynum.
“There are a lot of differences,” Bartlett said. “First of all, I have been mayor for several years and I have a good record of accomplishment. This is the type of job that requires someone to be on duty 24 hours a day, every day of the week. My background is quite a bit different than G.T. It has to do with my ownership of a small business. I have owned a gas company now for several decades. I’ve had the experience of meeting a payroll and all that sort of thing. G.T. is a part-time councilor and a full-time Washington, D.C., lobbyist.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of success – even in today’s economic climate. We have a balanced budget that makes good sense. It doesn’t have a significant amount of layoffs. We are always reprioritizing and making government more efficient.”
Except for Dick Crawford, Tulsa elects mayors from only Midtown Tulsa and the bulk of the appointments to authorities, boards and commissions are from Midtown or Downtown.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing,” Bartlett said. “It’s what happened. What I do think is we need to focus on the entirety of our city. Ever since I’ve been mayor we have had this concept that this is one Tulsa. We are all in this together, no matter what our place in life.”
Bynum helped negotiate a deal with the Creek Nation to fund $13 million for a maintenance fund for the low-water dam to be built as a result of the April 5 tax increase. The tribe has since backed off that offer.
“Some of the councilors, including Bynum, jumped the gun and said they would help us out,” Bartlett said. “That’s not the case.”
Bynum supports the Boren sales tax increase. He claims it will be a temporary tax that could be repealed in the future.
To expect to pass a new state sales tax and then repeal it, “That’s simply naïve,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett said he has implemented some of the recommendations of the KPMG study and save the city $25 million. Bynum said the study identified $420 million in savings and Bartlett has ignored it.
Tulsa lost an outlet mall to Jenks and Williams Company may be sold and moved to Dallas. He blamed the Jenks loss on the demeanor of some city councilors.
“We’ve worked very well with the chamber to attract companies like Macy’s and making sure we are doing everything we can to make sure Williams stays here,” Bartlett said. “They (Jenks mall developers) went in front of the City Council and they felt like they were lynched. They decided to go elsewhere.”
Bartlett was asked why Oklahoma City has grown faster than Tulsa. Bartlett credits continuity in the mayor’s office as a factor.
“Oklahoma City, because it is the Capitol, always has a lot of growth in government,” Bartlett said.
Unlike Bynum, Bartlett has endorsed U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine over Tom Atkinson in the race for Congress. Atkinson is Bartlett’s brother-in-law and formerly was a top advisor in Bynum’s campaign.
Bynum refused to endorse either candidate. Bartlett called that a “wishy, washy” position.
“I think you need to stand up and say something,” Bartlett said.
A former Democrat mayor and chairman of the Tulsa County Democrat Party are involved in Bynum’s campaign.
“I think that does show a philosophy that you are accepting their government involvement,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett has had troubled relations with county officials, particularly over funding of the county jail. Bartlett opposes a proposal to combine the city police department with the county sheriff staff.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Bartlett. “They have totally different missions.”
Bartlett approved the city’s inclusion of homosexuality in its hiring and housing policies.
“It’s not the job of government to socially engineer this society at all,” Bartlett said. “I do believe that it’s my job, it’s our job, to preserve the rights of individuals. In some ways they are defined in ways some of us may not agree with. But if it’s the law of the land, that’s where we take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and that’s what we need to support.”
Bartlett is opposed to President Obama’a director to schools to allow “transgender” homosexuals into bathrooms and locker rooms.
“It’s crazy,” said Bartlett. “That whole deal is nuts. How better can I say it?”
Bartlett is the son of former Gov. Dewey Bartlett. He is president of the family business, Keener Oil & Gas. He also has a pecan orchard.
He took over the oil business his grandfather, D.A. Bartlett, began in the early 1900s. He and his brother at one time ran his late father’s cattle ranch.
Bartlett served on the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and numerous other boards involved with oil and gas production. He was a member of the Tulsa Airport Authority.
Bartlett said he and his wife Victoria have visited 195 churches in Tulsa since he has been in office.
Bartlett served in the Colorado Air National Guard at the Buckley Air National Guard Base.