No sign or not to sign, that's the question for candidates.
Pledges related to abortion rights, a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and other issues were pitched to Republican presidential hopefuls, according to The New York Times.
So far in Tulsa's mayoral race, however, neither Bill Christiansen nor Kathy Taylor have been presented any pledges by independent groups, each candidate said. Mayor Dewey Bartlett was unavailable for comment, according to Dan Patten, his campaign manager.
Such pledges have come under scrutiny, and Taylor said she's not a fan.
"To try to make a decision and bind yourself" would be "irresponsible" until "you have all the facts or know the circumstances at the time," Taylor said, noting the possibility of economic changes, for example. "You make the decisions based on the facts and circumstances at the time."
She spoke before Bartlett on April 9 announced in a statement that he is asking mayoral candidates to "sign a commitment" to complete the mayoral term and not seek out other political opportunities.
Taylor's communications director Anna America said Taylor "absolutely intends to serve the full term," but likely would not sign Bartlett's commitment pledge.
"I don't see us signing any pieces of paper. I don't think that's a meaningful way to communicate with voters," America said. Christiansen said he would sign the pledge and evaluate others individually.
One group offering pledges since 2008 has been FOI Oklahoma. Its name is derived from the federal Freedom of Information Act, and, in Bartlett's initial campaign for mayor, he signed the group's Open Government Pledge.
But the group has since publicly criticized Bartlett, including when Bartlett proposed a series of private, one-on-one meetings with city councilors in 2010 rather than an open meetings process to resolve differences.
Joey Senat, an Oklahoma State University mass communications professor and FOI Oklahoma member, said there is a difference between policy advocacy pledges and his group's pledge.
"We're not asking them to go out and write a law. Just follow the law that exists," Senat said, adding that the group's pledge will be mailed to the mayoral candidates.
Political observer and OSU professor Jim Davis, speaking generally, said pledges can "extort" a position on a "pet issue" of interest only to a small minority.
He drew a sharp distinction between such pledges and when a candidate makes promises: "The effect of offering up issues and issue appeals as a candidate is to try to bring together a coalition."
Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, of the Tulsa 912 Project, said the group does not utilize pledges.
"I think that at times they're effective, but at times they're very restrictive ... The best way we can hold them accountable is just by staying involved and paying attention to what they're doing," she said. She is running to become a Tulsa County commissioner.
Christiansen said he's developing his own a set of formal promises.
"I think it's going to be called 'My Contract with the Citizens of Tulsa,'" he said. Among his promises: keeping the salary of mayoral appointees below that of the mayor ($105,000 yearly), attending all board and authority meetings which include the mayor rather than sending a surrogate, and commissioning a "sunshine review" task force on government transparency.
"I think the voters are looking for someone who will take a stance and make a promise," Christiansen said, calling it important to take such a step to win back a loss of citizens' trust with city government.
Send all comments and feedback regarding City to firstname.lastname@example.org
Share this article: