POSTED ON NOVEMBER 2, 2011:
Tulsa City Council hopefuls go head-to-head in electoral combat on Nov. 8
In the Sept. 13 primaries, Tulsa voters dealt a deafening blow to four incumbents who were booted from their seats on the City Council.
New champs, we mean, City Councilors, were chosen in Districts 1 and 5 during the primaries.
District 1 City Councilor Jack Henderson (D) beat out two Democratic newcomers, Twan Jones and Jason Trent, and will keep his seat for a one-year term. He's held the spot since 2004.
Henderson is a lifelong Tulsan who retired from AT&T after 37 years. He has three grown children with his wife, Dorothy. His city council biography states that his key issues include reducing crime, increasing economic development and improving streets.
Henderson has supported major construction projects 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.
Republican Karen Gilbert, a Tulsa Public Schools employee and anti-bullying advocate, captured the District 5 City Councilor title from incumbent Trail for a two-year term.
Gilbert is the current president of the Tulsa Council of PTAs, and was honored in August for her work on an anti-bullying task force.
Voters vs. Incumbents
Voters ousted four incumbents in the September primaries: District 2 City Councilor Roscoe Turner (D), District 4 City Councilor Maria Barnes (D), District 5's Trail (R) and District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino (R).
Three current councilors decided to leave the fray rather than stay and fight. They are District 2 City Councilor Rick Westcott, District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton and District 8 City Councilor Bill Christiansen. All were Republicans.
The field of contenders has narrowed since the Sept. 13 primaries, but there are still seven of nine Tulsa City Council seats to be decided in the Nov. 8 general election.
In the primaries, voters chose to wipe the slate clean in City Hall. But will booted councilors have the last laugh if a fresh-faced council lacks experience to get the job done?
District 2 Bout
The most prominent asset of District 2 is its large piece of the Arkansas River, the natural centerpiece for many proposed development plans in recent years.
Republican Jeannie Cue will face off against Democrat Phillip Oyler for a two-year term.
Cue is retired from American Airlines and Hillcrest Hospital, where she worked as an emergency room charge nurse. She's a third generation Tulsan and sister to Randi Miller, former District 2 councilor and Tulsa County Commissioner.
She received an endorsement from the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce and a $2,500 donation to her campaign by the chamber's PAC, TulsaBizPac.
Oyler, an information technology consultant, is a conservative Democrat whose favorite political hero is former President Ronald Reagan.
The husband and father of one daughter has previously served in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Oyler supports the city manager form of local government. He has been endorsed as the better choice by Tulsa World editorial staff.
Will voters choose Cue to help nurse the city back to health or decide Oyler's political inspiration will move him to do great things?
District 3 Bout
Democrat-heavy District 3 holds the Tulsa International Airport, most of the Gilcrease Expressway, the Tulsa Zoo and Mohawk Park. Mohawk Park, the nation's third-largest municipal park, features the Oxley Nature Center, two lakes (Recreation and Yahola), and golf and Frisbee golf courses.
Former District 3 councilor David Patrick will battle Republican David Bell for a three-year term. In the Democratic primary, Patrick trounced incumbent Turner in their ninth clash.
Patrick, a lifelong District 3 resident and owner of Patrick's Auto Service, has served three non-concurrent terms in the District 3 seat. He received an endorsement from the Tulsa Metro Chamber and a $2,500 donation to his campaign by TulsaBizPac.
Bell is a Republican political newcomer and retired lake patrol officer. He is deeply conservative, supports the city manager form of government and opposes changes to Tulsa's trash service. If elected, Bell has said he'd like to focus on enforcing immigration laws and cutting city support for the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce.
In the bout between these two Davids, who will be victorious -- the chamber-backed political old-hat or the chamber-disdaining right-wing newcomer?
District 4 Bout
District 4 is a petite rectangle in the heart of the city that holds all of downtown and many historic midtown neighborhoods like Owen Park and Swan Lake.
Incumbent councilor Barnes was defeated by Democrat Ken Brune in this district's primary. Republican Blake Ewing is fighting a close battle against Brune for a one-year term.
Brune, a former Tulsa County assistant district attorney and founder of Brune Law Firm, took an unusual stance on downtown revitalization. The widower with grown children and a grandchild owns a large share of the Reunion Center, an older downtown high-rise near 4th and Main Sts.
With the help of a Brookside-based design firm, Brune came up with a plan to design a "two-bedroom, two-bath New York-style apartment" on the ninth floor of the Reunion Center, Brune told the Tulsa Business Journal in August.
The apartment shares the ninth floor with Brune Law Firm. Brune was endorsed by the Tulsa Metro Chamber and given a $1,000 donation to his campaign by TulsaBizPac.
Ewing was given a $1,000 by TulsaBizPac without a formal endorsement by the chamber. However, Ewing was endorsed by the Tulsa World.
Ewing made a name for himself as a successful local business owner in the Blue Dome District. Since he opened Joe Momma's pizza, the Shop Tulsa Task Force chairman has debuted more hip businesses in the downtown area, including the Max Retropub, Boomtown Tees and Back Alley Blues & BBQ.
Ewing has also started up a film production company and a public relations firm, the Engine Room, which handles media relations for his businesses.
He decided to run for city council after spending time at City Hall. "After having an up close and personal experience, it became much more difficult for me to stand idly by. The more you know, the more you have to do," Ewing told UTW before the primaries.
In this downtown brawl, will Brune's distinguished legal career and money-where-his-mouth-is downtown renovations overcome Ewing's broad success in the Blue Dome District and string of popular local businesses?
District 6 Bout
With the largest amount of land, District 6 includes the outer reaches of east Tulsa and fits in between the boundaries of Catoosa and Broken Arrow.
Byron "Skip" Steele III, defeated current councilor Mautino in the Republican primary, and will face off against Democrat Robert Gwin Jr. for a three-year term as District 6 city councilor.
Steele is a newcomer to politics but not new to District 6, where he has made his home for more than three decades. He owns All Hours Computer Service, a computer repair business. He received a $2,500 donation from TulsaBizPac but no formal endorsement from the chamber.
Over the years, Gwin has become familiar with the democratic process after several runs for city council and for mayor. Gwin earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, after naysayers said he wouldn't be able to finish high school.
"I've always heard, 'You can't do this, you can't do that,' but then I do it," Gwin told the UTW in August. He is a sales manager for Kum & Go.
Will voters finally name Gwin the champ after years of being K.O.'d at the polls? Or will Steele claim his first political victory?
District 7 Bout
This key-shaped area of southeastern Tulsa is considered the workhorse of the city. Within its boundaries are the lion's share of 71st Street businesses, including Woodland Hills Mall, Super Target and Barnes & Noble, as well as popular chain restaurants like Outback Steakhouse, Cheddar's and Olive Garden.
In the primary, Thomas Mansur beat out two other candidates for the Republican nod. Mansur is up against Democrat Michael Rainwater for a one-year term.
Mansur is a civil engineer for SAIC who doesn't plan on retiring anytime soon, he said. "I think I've got about 20 more good years left in me," Mansur said.
He said he decided to run for office because he wants to see an end to city council bickering. "I do believe that we need a council that works very hard to collaborate," Mansur said.
Rainwater is a retired Department of Human Services assistant district supervisor in juvenile services. He is also very active in his neighborhood, and has been re-elected president of the Regency Park homeowners association five times.
Rainwater successfully lobbied the city to install high-tech street lamps in front of the Regency Park housing addition.
The Tulsa Democrat is a local performing musician and earned a master's degree in clinical psychology from the University of Tulsa.
In the city's retail center, will voters decide Mansur is the answer, or will Rainwater cure this district's political drought?
District 8 Bout
This district is a small rectangle of south Tulsa. Republican Phil Lakin and Democrat Bill Suliburk will go head to head for a two-year term.
Lakin is the CEO of Tulsa Community Foundation (TCF), the nation's largest charitable foundation. Supported by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, TCF has about $4 billion in assets and 25 employees.
Lakin attended Baylor University, and considers south Tulsa his home. Lakin has called Tulsa "America's most generous city," because he said, "one of our unique identifiers is our generosity."
Suliburk, a retired banking executive, has spent most of his life in south Tulsa. He picked up master's degrees from both University of California-Los Angeles and Harvard Graduate School of Business.
"My wife and I could've chosen anywhere" to live, Suliburk told the UTW, but Tulsa had it all. So the Suliburks settled back in Tulsa, alongside its quirky variety. "People don't think of south Tulsa as being quirky," Suliburk said.
Will the foundation head honcho claim this victory, or will the brilliant banker capture the District 8 win?
District 9 Bout
Boundary changes in this district have caused some confusion. Parts of District 4 are now in 9.
Besides District 1 councilor Henderson, the only other incumbent to hold onto his seat (so far) is District 9 City Councilor G.T. Bynum.
Bynum will face off against Democrat Mike Batman for a three-year term.
The young politico is the grandson of former Tulsa Mayor Robert J. LaFortune. After six years working in the U.S. Senate, Bynum moved back to Tulsa to start a family with wife, Susan.
In 2009, Bynum founded G.T. Bynum Consulting, a federal government relations firm that contracts with local businesses and non-profits that need a lobbyist or mediator in Washington.
Clients of the firm include George Kaiser Family Foundation, Family & Children's Services and his former employer, Williams & Williams.
"I love being on the City Council," Bynum told the UTW last year. "And for a guy who loves public policy, being on the City Council in Tulsa is like being a kid in a candy store."
Bynum said he hasn't been able to tell his young son that he's in a race against Batman.
Mike Batman. The "unmasked crusader," as he's nicknamed himself, is a good-hearted convenience store and used car lot owner. He has repeatedly said he is not running against anyone, "but for Tulsa."
Throughout the city council election season, Batman has driven around in a white truck emblazoned with campaign slogans. The Batmobile has the phrase, "I want to give back to Tulsa," on its back window.
Will the Democratic dark knight take out the bright young wonk with politics in his genes?
Head to your local polling station on Nov. 8 to weigh in on the city council bout in your district!
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