POSTED ON DECEMBER 14, 2011:
Bright Sunshiny Day
Bartlettís new fresh-faced chief of staff is former Republican campaign operative, with a better singing voice
So, by now you may all have heard Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr.'s rendition of Johnny Nash's 1972 hit, "I Can See Clearly Now," in his speech during the city councilors' swearing-in ceremony on Dec. 5.
But if you missed it, allow me to put on my best monotone, toot my pitch pipe and regale you: "It's going to be. A. Bright. Bright. Bright. Sunshiny. Day."
All together now!
Last week, the mayor announced the appointment of a new chief of staff, Jarred Brejcha (say it with me: "bray-ha"), and the hiring of a new city attorney, David O'Meilia.
At an afternoon press conference, Brejcha, just 28, broke out his best impression of the mayor's take on the '70s upbeat classic, which cracked up a boardroom full of hard-boiled journalists.
The mayor, still chuckling, pointed toward the wall of floor-to-ceiling picture windows overlooking a bright-blue, cloudless Wednesday afternoon and said, "There are many, many blue skies out there today!
"See," Bartlett smiled, "He picks it up pretty well, doesn't he?"
The mayor told UTW that age is just a number, and "not necessarily a gauge of a person's intelligence or vision or imagination, which is something that a good chief of staff has."
"And certainly he can talk well...and hopefully, he can sing better than I can," Barlett said.
Bartlett said he really wanted "to engage more young people," especially those under 35, in the political process.
Brejcha's eight-year work history includes top-tier positions in campaigns for U.S. Rep. John Sullivan and U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, and served as Bartlett's mayoral campaign manager in 2009. "If you really want to know somebody well, spend a lot of time with them in a political campaign," the mayor said. "You get to know them, warts and all."
Brejcha worked alongside Karl Ahlgren and Fount Holland -- co-owners of right-wing political consulting firm AH Strategies -- on Bartlett's campaign.
Brejcha was also involved in Tulsa area campaigns like Tulsa County's "4 to Fix" proposition and Bartlett's redistricting effort. AH Strategies or Ahlgren also were involved in all of these efforts.
It's a small world in politics (especially in Oklahoma politics), after all.
Brejcha was communications director for State Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman (R).
Brejcha will replace former chief of staff Terry Simonson, who resigned Oct. 15 following allegations that he used his position to gain special treatment for his son, aspiring firefighter Ryan Simonson. Bartlett said Brejcha was his first choice to become his new chief of staff.
The new top staffer graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Tulsa; he also received the equivalent of a minor in African American studies. Brejcha's uncle is former longtime District 3 City Councilor Roscoe Turner.
Brejcha said he is inspired by his Uncle Roscoe's career in public service. In his sophomore year of high school, he got hooked on politics after reading Ronald Reagan's autobiography, An American Life, released in 1999.
Brejcha is an avid hog hunter. When asked how his hog huntin' skills might be handy in his new position, Brejcha said he'd "get rid of the pork" down at City Hall.
Brejcha is transitioning from his short-lived position (he was appointed by the mayor in September) as the city's director of intergovernmental and enterprise development. This vague title came with an equally vague job description including buzz words like "government relations," "policy work" and "economic development priorities." His salary will remain the same.
Bartlett also announced the hiring of a new city attorney, O'Meilia, who will begin at the beginning of January.
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