POSTED ON AUGUST 31, 2011:
A voter information series
This election season, 34 candidates are vying for nine seats on 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.
So what's in each district? What are their unique strengths and weaknesses? Who'll be battling it out in the primaries, and what do they stand for? We intend to tell you as we dig into a district or two each week in our continuing series, Council Connection. Up this week is District 7.
The Lay of the Land
District 7 is a key-shaped area that encompasses southeastern Tulsa. This area has a large portion of Highway 169 running through it, and contains Woodland Hills Mall, Cinemark and the lion's share of 71 Street businesses like Super Target, Babies 'R Us and Barnes & Noble, as well as restaurants like Outback Steakhouse, Cheddar's, Applebee's and Olive Garden.
The district runs north and south between 31st and 101st Streets, and east to west between Garnett Road and Memorial Dr.
Councilor John Eagleton is not seeking re-election, which leaves his spot up for grabs. Three Republicans, Steven Roemerman, 35, Thomas Mansur, 64, and Elliott Parker Sr., 57, will duke it out in the primaries.
The winner will face off against Democrat Michael Rainwater, 61, in the general election for a one-year term.
Steven Roemerman has lived in District 7 for the past three years with his three young children and wife of 13 years, Stacey Roemerman. He moved to Tulsa in 1998 after graduating from Evangel College in Springfield, Mo.
He's a wonk who regularly shows up for city council meetings and isn't afraid to ask questions. For the past four years, Roemerman has been on the Sales Tax Overview Committee, where he enjoys being a "watchdog at City Hall," he said.
Roemerman has been appointed to the committee twice and said he likes reviewing and reporting on expenditures of Tulsa's third-penny sales tax and bond programs.
He is a senior programmer analyst for Avis Budget Group. "I'm a big computer nerd, is what it boils down to," he laughed.
To bring new economic opportunities to Tulsa, Roemerman said he's got a three-pronged plan of attack. First, "We need to have an accurate reckoning and accounting of our assets" as a city, he said. "We need to have a database of all the properties, vacant or available."
Second, Roemerman would focus on streamlining the zoning process and improving city planning. "I think it's important for Tulsa to have its own in-house planning department and zoning that's clear, concise and easy to understand," he said.
Third, he'd like to tackle the city's permit process. "Some businesses require certain permits, and that whole process needs to be as fast as possible," Roemerman said.
He said even if he couldn't swing a dramatic change in what he calls the "bureaucratic nightmare" of the permit process, if elected he'd like to try to help small business owners in his district.
The Roemermans live in Hampton South neighborhood in south Tulsa. "I live, work and play in District 7," Roemerman said. "I love the fact that I can do all those things in one area."
He called District 7 the "workhorse of the city," an appropriate moniker for a district that includes the hustle and bustle of the 71st Street corridor near Woodland Hills Mall. Check out his campaign site at steven4tulsa.com.
Thomas Mansur is civil engineer for SAIC. He graduated from Edison High School, earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma and served in the Army for 21 years.
After he left the Army, Mansur returned to Tulsa and ran a small business until 2000. He then earned a master's degree from Oklahoma State University.
For the past 11 years, he's worked as a civil engineer, where he's currently focused on municipal water and wastewater issues.
"I'm not planning on retiring anytime soon," Mansur said. "My dad lived to be 95 and worked until he was 94. I think I've got about 20 more good years left in me."
He's been married to Cindy Mansur 42 years, and together they have one daughter and one grandson.
Mansur decided to run for office because he wants to see a change in the tenor of city council. "I don't say this with any rancor ... but I do believe that we need a council that works very hard to collaborate. A lot of that is just being grateful for what we have," he said.
"I'm not trying to be a Pollyanna about it, but I think we can try to be a little bit more positive," Mansur said. "Yes, we have potholes but we have a plan to fix them. And yes, we'd always like things to happen a little faster but it seems like the council has been focused on negative things."
"I'd like to try to elevate the discourse a bit," he said.
Mansur has lived in District 7 for the past 21 years. He hasn't run for office before, but considers himself an interested and conscientious citizen. He said he believes his engineering experience has familiarized him with "a lot of the problems that municipalities have and making budgets go further."
The three hallmarks of his campaign, he said, are accountability, collaboration and a spirit of service -- things he doesn't see a lot of on the council now. "There tends to be a kind of negativity on the council," he said. "They get paid to be skeptical about things, but they shouldn't get paid to be cynical."
Elliott Parker Sr. is retired from the military. He attended Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and the University of Maryland.
Michael Rainwater is the sole Democrat in this race. Originally, Democrat Bobby Bookout Jr. filed to run in this district. He dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, but gave Rainwater his full support.
In 1999, Rainwater retired from Department of Human Services as an assistant district supervisor in juvenile services. He was a member of the juvenile justice task force.
While working at DHS, Rainwater launched a pilot program to recruit, train and certify foster parents on how to handle delinquent youths, according to the bio on his campaign site, rainwater4district7.com.
Since 2006, Rainwater has been re-elected president of the Regency Park homeowners association five times. He and the association were able to tap into $27,000 of Vision 2025 money to assist them in re-building part of the neighborhood's wall and to order matching entrance signs.
Additionally, Rainwater began to edit the association's newsletter and the current neighborhood publication is entirely paid for by advertising dollars he obtained from local businesses, his site said.
Rainwater lobbied the city to install high-tech street lamps along 51st Street between Mingo Road and Yale Ave., in front of Regency Park housing addition.
He has a bachelor's degree from Northeastern State College, Tahlequah, and a master's degree in clinical psychology from the University of Tulsa.
Rainwater is also a musician and has performed with local bands.
Now, District 7 is better known! We've got two districts left to explore before the primaries on Sept. 13. Check back each week to get up close and personal with each of Tulsa's districts and the council candidates.
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