KTUL.com asked people plugged in to the mayor's race to provide some analysis of the debate. Be sure to leave your comments below about who you think came out ahead.
News Reporter, Urban Tulsa Weekly:
Despite being a decided underdog, Bill Christiansen has a natural advantage in a forum pitting him against a current mayor and a former mayor. He can swing freely at the record of both Dewey Bartlett and Kathy Taylor without having to worry much about receiving shots in return.
Christiansen, a former city councilor, punched hard at Bartlett, taking direct aim in a response to a question about the city’s boards, authorities and commissions. “The current mayor has a really, really poor record of attendance,” Christiansen said. For his part, Bartlett, espoused a philosophy—citing Ronald Reagan—of hiring well and letting others do their job. “It would be a misuse of my time if I spent all of my time going to meetings,” Bartlett said, describing his management style as a series of informal talks going on throughout the day.
Bartlett’s opening statement began with a direct jab at Taylor, who served as mayor immediately prior to his taking office, as he described inheriting a cash flow problem with city finances. “We were not living within our means,” Bartlett said, going on to ask—and answer—a question he no doubt hopes will resonate with voters: “How did we get out of our problem? We managed our way out of it, and we did it without a tax increase.” He articulated this campaign message only a couple of times, however, and did so without strong anecdotes or descriptions. At times, he spoke almost as if he was addressing the city council rather than undecided voters.
Kathy Taylor offered plenty of specifics, but surprisingly spent a lot of time talking about her first campaign—and not just about ONEOK Field or the BOK Center, as Taylor often answered questions by referring to specific efforts or approaches she undertook while in office. She did however advocate for some new proposals, including Tax Increment Finance Districts to improve the economic viability of some northside areas (after Christiansen voiced the same idea earlier in the debate) as well as making government data more open to the public. Taylor also wasn’t shy about criticizing Bartlett for his recent budget proposal, which she described as “doing less with more.”
Christiansen flubbed one answer, but it may have actually helped him. Asked about government transparency early in the debate, he spoke about holding events to bring government to the public and give people a chance to speak regularly with the mayor. “I think we need to go out into the districts,” Christiansen said. “Y’know, spend the night with the mayor.” And the audience roared with laughter at the obvious impropriety that might involve. But the underdog just smiled good-naturedly, as he did throughout most of the forum. After all, he wasn’t the one having to listen to criticism of his record.
Small Business Owner, Community Housing Advocate and Volunteer:
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see or hear the entire debate due to some technical difficulties. From what I did hear, I thought some of Bartlett's comments were a bit rehearsed. Christiansen was laid back and Taylor was very pointed and confident in her comments.
Christiansen's point about mutual respect for all city employees will probably gain him a couple of more voters from the Bartlett camp. Taylor's point about transparency and fair wages will gain her a few more as well.
All in all, Taylor and Christiansen came out sounding more open and honest about their commitment to the citizens of Tulsa and transparency. Taylor did stay more focused on the responses than the other two at times.
I can't determine the winner because I didn't see the entire debate, but from what I did hear, Taylor will probably be out front.
Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:
P.O. Box 8 Tulsa, OK 74101-0008