City Hall

Tulsans will go to the polls June 28 for the city’s nonpartisan mayoral primary.

Every Sunday between now and election day, incumbent Mayor Dewey Bartlett and his main challenger, City Councilor G.T. Bynum, will answer one question a week submitted by Tulsans.

We’re calling it “So You Want to be Mayor?”

If you would like to submit a question, email it to The Frontier at

Today’s question was submitted by outgoing University of Tulsa President Steadman Upham.


Steadman Upham. Courtesy

Question: “The University of Tulsa is currently enrolling the Class of 2020. What are your plans to make Tulsa an even better place for young people to put down roots after they graduate from college?”

Mayor Dewey Bartlett listens last year during a meeting of the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority. The mayor said Tuesday that he thinks the Police Department should consider adopting the Fire Department's promotion policy. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Mayor Dewey Bartlett

Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s response:

The class of 2020 can look forward to many improvements to our great city.

My administration has worked to make sure that our city is attractive to both businesses as well as a young, skilled, and energetic work force. We have accomplished momentum leading to our city’s growth, but there is still more work to be done. These developments in our city will undoubtedly attract young persons to come to and to remain in our city.

Through the successful passage of Vision Tulsa, we have devoted funding to implement a rapid transit system which will efficiently and conveniently link all of Tulsa. The rapid transit system will span the entirety of South Peoria Avenue all the way through North Peoria Avenue. Similarly, 11th Street will also have a rapid transit system stretching all the way from East Tulsa to West Tulsa, including a path right by the University of Tulsa campus. The city will be connected in a way that we have not yet seen before. Our community will continue to come together.

A Gathering Place for Tulsa will be completed and will attract tens of thousands people from across the country to enjoy the gem that we possess in what is the Arkansas River. For decades Tulsans have dreamed of a developed riverfront, and now it is finally happening.

Finally, Turkey Mountain will be enhanced into a world class urban wilderness area. Various land acquisitions have made the expansion possible. We are more active and vibrant as a city than we have ever been and you can expect this trend to continue. Our city is taking the right steps to ensure that as we continue to grow that we are doing it responsibly and approach this growth with a plan to make sure that our city maintains its unique identity.

These examples all serve as indicators for the positive direction that Tulsa is headed. Tulsa is in a good place. We have a great deal to look forward to right here in Tulsa, and we are witnessing more and more people choosing to call Tulsa home for that reason. In my term as mayor, we have accomplished great things and by the time the Class of 2020 enters the working world, there will be even more reasons to call Tulsa home.


City Councilor G.T. Bynum

City Councilor G.T. Bynum’s response: Before I answer the question, I have to thank the man asking it. President Upham has been an absolutely incredible leader for the University of Tulsa during his time there. Typically, he is thinking about the future with this question.

Although I am a fifth-generation Tulsan, my wife and I do not live here by default. We made the conscious decision to leave careers elsewhere and grow our family in Tulsa because we believe it is the best place in the whole world for our kids.

I am mindful that it did not become that way by accident. When my great-great-grandfather came to Tulsa in the 19th century, it was an outpost of civilization with muddy streets and a few wooden buildings. Almost everything I love about Tulsa today was built by someone in those subsequent generations. Each generation had to step up and work hard to leave our city better than they found it.

Today, we should take inspiration from that dedication. For any of us who live here by choice, we should ask ourselves what approach made Tulsa that special place for us — and how do we carry on that tradition for yet another generation of Tulsans?

I believe that means we need to renew the original spirit of high expectations that built Tulsa up in the first place. What if Waite Phillips had decided it was too difficult to build the Philtower? What if Bill Skelly had decided we couldn’t compete in the field of aviation? What if John Williams had decided he would just manage his regional bridge construction company instead of building it into one of the world’s great energy juggernauts? Fortunately, none of these leaders settled for less. And neither should we.

I will work as mayor with that same mindset. Our goal is to be a world-class city that is growing again. Young professionals need to know that Tulsa is a city on the move, that it is a place of opportunity. We won’t be managing a slow decline — we will be building a great city for the next generation. We are just the right size for anyone who wants to make their mark to do so.

We will be a city that champions quality education instead of using “that’s how we’ve always done it” as an excuse for disengagement by the city government. A community-wide emphasis on education will mean better lives for children and a better work force with which businesses can grow.

None of this starts after the election. Our campaign is building a coalition right now for people who want Tulsa to unite behind big goals again. The election is crucial, but our work won’t stop then. The types of issues we intend to impact require more than one person for effective change. Our focus is on the next four years and how we can make Tulsa the best place for a whole new generation. I invite anyone who wants to play a part in that effort to join us.