The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa has decided to move forward with its mayoral forum whether Mayor Dewey Bartlett can attend or not.
Mary Jane Lindaman, voter services chair for the League, said the organization was concerned about low turnout if neither Bartlett nor his main challenger, City Councilor G.T. Bynum, could participate. But Bynum confirmed Tuesday that he will be at the event, scheduled for the evening of June 15 at the Tulsa Community College Center for Creativity, 909 South Boston Ave. The forum is co-sponsored by The Frontier.
Bartlett has still not decided whether he will participate in the forum, his campaign manager said Tuesday.
“It’s hard, because we already have a debate scheduled for that (afternoon) with the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa” said Matt Faeth.
However Bartlett and Bynum have scheduled two debates on Friday.
Tulsa voters go to the polls June 28 to vote in the nonpartisan mayoral primary. Should one of the five candidates receive more than 50 percent of the vote, that person would become the city’s next mayor and take office in December. Otherwise, the race would ultimately be determined in the general election in November.
Faeth said Bartlett has seven debates scheduled in the six weeks before Election Day.
“We’ll probably get another one in there,” he said. “We’re just kind of reviewing it and trying to see how it all fits into the schedule and the mayor’s availability.”
Sheila Swearingen, a former president of the League, said she could not recall an incumbent mayor in the last 20 years declining to participate in a candidate forum.
“That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened,” Swearingen said, “but in my memory … no candidate has declined the invitation from the League, as long as we scheduled far enough in advance to allow for calendaring issues.”
Lindaman said the Bartlett campaign has not responded to two emails requesting the mayor’s participation in the forum. Candidates were offered three potential dates for the forum: June 13, June 14 and June 15, Lindaman said.
Lindaman said she plans to reach out to the mayor’s campaign manager to let him know that the forum will take place.
“I will let Matt Faeth know we are proceeding,” Lindaman said. “There will be a forum on the 15th of June.”
The other people running for mayor are perennial candidates Paul Tay and Lawrence Kirkpatrick, and first-time candidate Tom McCay.
All candidates will be invited to participate in the forum, Lindaman said. The format will be identical to the candidate forums the League sponsored for the sheriff’s election. Each candidate will be given time for an opening statement, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience, and then final statements.
The start time has not been determined but is expected to be at either 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.
Upcoming Mayoral Debates:
Wednesday, 5 p.m., Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93
Friday, 8 a.m., Pat Campbell Radio Show
Friday, 11:30 a.m., Tulsa Republican Club, at the Summit Club