Now that the 2016 general election voting has entered into the history records, it seems time to take a look at more local elections. New and past votes (and their adverse effects) will have an effect in the future on the well-being of the population.
Growing up in Tulsa, we used to have a form of government called “mayor/commission” that consisted of an elected mayor and commissioners. There was a commissioner for each of the departments, such as streets, fire, police, water and sewer, etc. Each of those commissioners was elected as a partisan, that is a Democrat, a Republican or Independent.
It was up to the political parties to select their candidates and accept credit or blame for the results. At least the voters had an idea of the philosophy each candidate should have.
Then, a few decades ago, some individual or group came up with the idea of changing the form of government to “mayor/council” – in which the council members were elected by districts where each council member had to reside to be elected. In my memory, the excuse for the change was that the American Civil Liberties Union was going to file a lawsuit because Tulsa’s black population had no representation, which was a lie since the office of finance commissioner was occupied by a very competent and honest black man. Things seemed to run rather well.
The commissioners could be reached at all hours when something was wrong, and by reason of being elected, they would see that the problem was fixed. With the new form, the councilors can only contact the department manager, a civil service protected position, who very often does not want to be bothered in off hours. In some cases, they are political appointees and quite incompetent for the position. At least that was my observation after the change (I believe in the 1980s). The result has been a decline in service and maintenance of facilities.
Then in the last several years there was another group who put forth the premise of “nonpartisan” elections. This, in my opinion, is a thwarting of the idea of an informed electorate, which is the primary requirement for successful operation in a representative republic form of government, that is the basis for the United States of America. This change was finally put in place for the election this year. The result is that major misrepresentations have occurred that, again in my opinion, will bode ill for the near future of the city.
One immediate result is the election of a young (to me) mayor, who is from a prominent family and claiming to be Republican, managed to secure the support of the major movers in the Democrat Party. He gained election a few months ago in a runoff election and just recently announced his staff appointments, although he doesn’t take office until December.
One that has generated surprise from some observers was the appointment of the more recent former mayor, Kathy Taylor, to a major advisory position. In the previous mayoral election, she was defeated by the outgoing mayor by about 10 percent and left the city in sad condition.
There is too much to go into detail in allowed space, but it is substantial.
Thus the old adage of “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance” is still in force, to which should be added “and good people must become involved and thwart the efforts of the misguided.”
In the election when she was defeated, she came to our veterans’ meeting and spoke with those present and on reaching me asked if I would vote for her. My reply was no, and she asked why. I had lost my wife recently and replied “because you made the city so expensive that I had to move to a suburb that cost less.”
It looks to me as if the city is embarked on a steep decline in livability, survivability and affordability and it pains me as one who grew up there for those left.