This election season, 36 candidates are vying for nine seats on the Tulsa City Council. Candidates will duke it out in the primaries on Sept. 13, when the districts with only Republican or Democratic candidates will be decided.
Those who win the primaries will face off on Election Day, Nov. 8.
What's in each district? What are their unique strengths and weaknesses? Who'll be battling it out in the primaries, and what are their platforms and priorities? We intend to tell you as we dig into a district or two each week in this new series, Council Connection. We begin this week with a look at District 1.
The Lay of the Land
First up, we have District 1. This northwestern chunk of Tulsa borders Turley, while its eastern boundary curves along the Cherokee Expressway and extends south to Highway 412. On the west, it encompasses the Tulsa Country Club.
District 1 includes historic Greenwood Avenue, dubbed "Black Wall Street" at the turn of the 20th century. On May 31, 1921, this successful black area became the scene of destruction, violence and fire during the Tulsa Race Riots. This event was one of the most devastating race riots in the history of the United States.
More than 300 people were killed and 1,256 homes were burned, according to Red Cross estimates.
Currently, District 1 contains prominent organizations like the Gilcrease Museum; Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and Tulsa Technology Center campuses; John 3:16 Mission; and the rounded steeple of Morningstar Baptist Church. This district likes its barbecue, and features several small mom and pop BBQ and rib joints with Southern-style eats, mismatched chairs and pots of fake flowers.
Tidy neighborhoods such as Dunbar and Heritage Hills have long-time residents and well-kept yards, while more notoriously crime-ridden areas like Comanche Park and Northridge have blighted spots with burned-out, boarded-up houses.
The incumbent councilor for District 1 is Democrat Jack Henderson, 61, who's held the seat since 2004. Henderson is up against two younger Dems, Twan T. Jones, 40, and Jason V. Trent II, 45, who have all thrown their hats in the ring for a one-year term.
Of the three Democratic candidates, only one responded to UTW requests for an interview - newcomer to politics, Jason Trent.
The former DJ and current second-shift worker at Holiday Inn Express is so passionate about the district that his wife, Cantrice Trent has to tell him to calm down sometimes.
Trent has admitted to being convicted of a felony in the past but said, "I've made really bad choices ... And I'm going to be honest with you, in District 1, you're not going to find too many people who haven't."
However, this father of five believes in redemption. After a 13-year marriage, he and Cantrice, split for 11 years. But the two rekindled their relationship, courted and had a full church wedding four years ago.
"I just thank God for a second chance with my wife," Trent said.
The best man at his second wedding was his son Jake, who was later murdered in the streets of District 1 on May 12, 2009. Trent described a pain so intense it made him sick to his stomach. "I couldn't go hold my child as he lay there," he said.
He stood at the police tape for five or six hours and "didn't leave that tape until the medical examiner came," he said.
Jake was 18.
Since then, Trent has been a firebrand for helping other families who are going through similar situations. He started up the Jake Trent Foundation. And Trent has also taken to checking the Tulsa Police Department website and scanner for homicides every day. When he hears one on the scanner, he gets out of bed and heads to the scene with his wife.
They go because they have been there, and they want to comfort those at the scene.
"There's a hurt in these people that cannot be consoled," he said.
He thinks the district's councilor should show their support at the scene of every homicide that occurs in the area. Trent said he's tired of city councilors "sitting down there [at City Hall] arguing about the mayor and what he's doing while our kids are dying."
A downside to District 1, Trent said, is "That some of our kids have lost their way. They've been recruited by gangs. We've lost so many kids over here."
He said there's a broken relationship between the police and the people of the district. "There's bad blood, you know. And the thing that really gets me is the police are not killing us," Trent said. "We killing each other."
On the flip side, Trent said the best part of District 1 is the people. "We love our neighbors, we love our friends," he said. "I see people I've been knowing in District 1 since I was in the seventh grade."
They look out for one another and keep an eye on each other's houses, too, Trent said.
Trent has spent most of his life in the district, and currently lives in the house he grew up in as a child.
As for incumbent councilor Henderson, Trent said, "I love him and I have no ill feelings for him, but it's time for a change."
Jack Henderson is a lifelong Tulsan who retired from AT&T after 37 years. He has three grown children with his wife, Dorothy. According to his city council webpage, Henderson's goal is to stand up and speak out for northwest Tulsa, while his key issues include less crime, more economic development and better streets.
He's supported every major construction project in north Tulsa, including the OU Specialty Clinic, Shoppes on Peoria, the Tulsa Health Center, the OSU Medical Center, and several well-kept senior housing duplex and complex additions. Attempts to contact Councilman Henderson were not returned.
Community advocate Twan Jones was born and raised in Tulsa, and is an ordained minister. His campaign slogan, according to his polished website, twanjones.org, is "Changing the Guard." He has three children and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. According to his site, his key issues include: more aggressive crime control, improved infrastructure and economic growth in addition to vaguer ideals like "love, tolerance, respect and mutual understanding."
And now, hopefully, District 1 is better known to you. Eight districts are left to go until the primaries on Sept. 13. Check back each week to get up close and personal with each of Tulsa's different districts and their city council candidates.
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