City Councilor G.T. Bynum supports gay rights and a statewide increase in sales tax.
He won’t say if he would vote for U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine or challenger Tom Atkinson, who used to be a top advisor in Bynum’s mayoral campaign.
“Tom had a role on our steering committee and could not do that anymore because he is running for congress,” Bynum said.
Bynum said he is trying to run a “nonpartisan campaign.”
“I’m nor getting involved in that race,” Bynum said. “I am not getting involved in any other race.”
Bynum debated Mayor Dewey Bartlett on the Pat Campbell Show on KFAQ 1170. Bynum and Bartlett will face challenges Tom McCay, Paul Tay and Lawrence Kirkpatrick in a nonpartisan municipal primary on June 28.
Bynum is a big supporter of the city’s change in personnel and housing policies that gives special rights to people who claim to be homosexual.
“I completely disagree that it’s aggressive against conservative citizens,” Bynum said. “The conservatism that I subscribe to of Barry Goldwater is about believing in privacy and the rights of the individual extending until they infringe on someone else. On this issue, I have been up front in saying I don’t think someone’s sexual orientation has any impact on their job performance or on where they ought to be allowed to live.
“This has been framed as giving ‘special rights’ to gay folks when the reality is that the ordinance that’s in place and the human resource policy that’s in place protects straight employees from gay supervisors just as much as they do the other way around.
“I don’t view it as an attack on conservatism. I think it is actually standing up for conservatism.”
Bynum’s support of homosexuality doesn’t extend to President Obama’s edict on “transgender bathrooms.”
“People on all sides of the underlying issue ought to be outraged by the executive overreach,” Bynum said. “I have been up front in standing up for the rights of gays and lesbians and folks like that, I think the method by which this have been done is a disaster.”
On April 5, Bynum supported the $884,100,000.00 increase in city sales tax and he said he supports an initiative petition that would raise state sales tax by one cent.
“What puts our city in a bad position is schools that only offer classes four days a week,” Bynum said in reference to state cuts in public education. “We have to recognize our schools are in a serious crisis.
“As a short-term solution, I support it.
”Education ought to be the top priority of the mayor of this city.”
Bynum said raising the sales tax is a “temporary fix” and that the tax can be repealed late. He also promotes a plan to let cities use property taxes for the general budget.
“At the state level, we need to allow cities to diversify their revenue sources,” Bynum said.
For the past 30 years, except for Dick Crawford, all of Tulsa mayors have come from Midtown Tulsa. Bynum doesn’t see any problem with so much leadership coming from just one section of town.
“It’s just a matter of history,” said Bynum. “It’s a matter of time. Those areas (parts of East Tulsa and South Tulsa that were annexed in the 1960s) that were annexed were rural areas. It was basically farmland and rural areas between Tulsa and Broken Arrow – everything that today we think of as South Tulsa and East Tulsa. There’s no doubt in my mind that as time goes by, you will have those areas fill in more and you will have South Tulsa be the growth juggernaut of Tulsa for the last 40 or 50 years since that annexation occurred. And my expectation will be that you will have more people run for office from there. And run for mayor in particular. But I think it’s important that we note that there is disproportionate turnout in Midtown and South Tulsa versus the other parts of the city.”
Bynum helped negotiate a deal with the Creek Nation for a $13 million donation for a maintenance fund for river developments. The tribe has since backed off that commitment.
“I have every confidence in the world that we will have that by the end of this year,” Bynum said.
If the tribe or someone else doesn’t fund the maintenance fund, the city’s general budget will.
Bynum said he would be a better mayor than Bartlett because he can bring people together.
“I think the clear, obvious difference between the two of us is that I think we can do better,” Bynum said. “I think that the things that we have done in the last seven or eight years are good but Tulsa’s got to be doing a whole lot better. We need to be growing better than we have been. We need to be pulling together as a community. And we need to be aiming higher.
Bynum wants Tulsa to be in elite circles.
“I always think about the areas where we can be elite,” Bynum said.
He praised his work on the veterans treatment court – the first one in the nation.
“Basically, it provides better services for our men and women who are coming back from service abroad than they might receive through the normal criminal justice system,” Bynum said.
Bynum took some credit for the two largest street projects in Tulsa’s history.
“Our streets were in terrible shape in 2008,” Bynum said. “Mayor Bartlett had led a task force that suggested that people just have the political will to pass a tax increase. I am glad we didn’t take that advice. We didn’t turn the Broken Arrow Expressway into a toll road as he recommended. Instead, we identified existing resource and used those to fund the largest street program in the history of the city. We did that in 2008 and in 2013, when he was up running for re-election, I chaired that initiative and led it and we got it passed.”
Bynum also takes credit for passing millions of dollars of new sales tax for improvements on the Arkansas River.
“Whether people like the river or not, whether they view it as an asset or not, I am proud of the fact that I was able to lead in that effort to successfully accomplish something that people have been talking about for 52 years but not been able to do,” Bynum said.
Bynum is satisfied that local taxes have been raised sufficiently. “The tax rate we have right now is perfectly fine,” Bynum said. “We don’t need to increase taxes. But what we do need to do is shift to outcome-based budgeting.”
Bynum said Bartlett has virtually ignored the KPMG efficiency study. Bartlett said he has saved the city $25 million while Bynum said the study identified $420 million in savings.
“He sat on it for six years,” Bynum said.
In terms of economic development, Bynum said Bartlett didn’t engage the developers of an outlet mall that chose Jenks instead of Tulsa. He said Bartlett refused to meet with the developer of an outlet mall in East Tulsa.
Bynum started a consulting company and has done work for cities including Bartlesville, Claremore and Miami while serving on the Tulsa City Council.
“I am very proud of the firm I started,” Bynum said. “It’s easy to look down on someone else’s business when you inherited a million dollar oil company.
“I won’t be off at my oil company part of the time when I should be working as mayor.”
Bynum’s work as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., followed work as a staff member for former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles and later, Sen. Tom Coburn. He later worked for Williams and Williams, a real-estate auction firm. He got laid off during the 2009 recession and he started his own company. If elected mayor, he plans to stop working for his company.
Bynum represents District 9 on the Council.