Mayor-elect G.T. Bynum said he believes former Mayor Kathy Taylor is the best possible choice to lead his eon comic development team. DYLAN GOFORTH

Mayor-elect G.T. Bynum said he believes former Mayor Kathy Taylor is the best possible choice to lead his economic development team. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

How did G.T. Bynum get Kathy Taylor to come back to work at City Hall?

He asked.

Not once. Not twice.

It wasn’t like that. He was curious. He wanted to know if and how she might want to help the city once he becomes mayor Dec. 5.

Do you want to sit on a board? How about an authority? Lead a task force?

“I worked with her as a councilor. I’ve known her a long time,” Bynum said. “She is incredibly smart, hardworking and she knows the city backwards and forward.

“So her name kept popping up as somebody that would be good in this role or that.”

They were having breakfast, and whenever he’d ask, Bynum says, she’d come back with: “I’ll do anything I can to help you be successful.”

Over the next few weeks they talked more, and every time Taylor came back with that line: “I’ll do whatever I can to help you be successful.”

This got Bynum thinking big. Maybe he had something here. Maybe, just maybe, she’d do it. Maybe she’d be the game-changer he was looking for to lead the city’s economic development team.

But he worried: Would it be awkward for a former mayor to go to work for a new one?

Taylor said, no, then told Bynum that when she was the state’s secretary of Tourism, Commerce and Workforce Development, she hired former Gov. George Nigh, and that worked out great.

“That’s when it was like, wow, we might have an opportunity here for a real home run,” Bynum said.

Now Bynum felt better, and before he knew it, the city of Tulsa had its new chief of economic development. Taylor will not be taking a salary.

“If you strip away politics and just look at it, I don’t think there is anyone in the world more qualified to lead our economic development efforts here in Tulsa than she is,” Bynum said.

Taylor was born in Oklahoma City and earned journalism and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma. After almost a decade in private practice, she moved to Tulsa to become vice president and general counsel for Thrifty Car Rental. Taylor, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Tulsa in 2006 and served until 2009, when she decided not to seek re-election.

She ran for mayor again in 2013 but was defeated by incumbent Mayor Dewey Bartlett. She and her husband, Bill Lobeck, are founders of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation. Most recently, Taylor has served as chairwoman of the leadership council for ImpactTulsa, a collaborative education initiative.

Speaking from Northern California on Friday, where she’d just come from a cooking class – she learned to make mushroom tortellini – Taylor, 61, said she’s excited to be part of Bynum’s team.

“It fits perfectly with my background as secretary of commerce, and obviously as mayor,” Taylor said.

Building a better economy requires more than recruiting and retaining employers, Taylor said. It takes good schools, safe neighborhoods and an overall good quality of life – all things Bynum espoused on the campaign trail.

“The majority of the (new) jobs are going to come from businesses that have under 20 employees. That is the fact both in Oklahoma and nationally,” Taylor said. “We just need to make it as friendly as possible for this community, and that is certainly Mayor Bynum’s vision, and I’m certainly happy to help execute it.”

Taylor has a reputation for getting things done – think ONEOK Field and the new City Hall – with a single-mindedness that has sometimes rubbed people wrong.

Only now she won’t be the Big Boss, and Bynum has promised that his administration will do a better job than the present occupants of the Mayor’s Office in keeping the public and the City Council aware of economic development projects.

The mayor-elect doesn’t want another outlet mall bailing for the suburbs, or another development along the Arkansas River falling into a legal never-never land.

Taylor believes Bynum can make good on his pledge to have the city be more transparent on development issues.

Kathy Taylor. Courtesy

Kathy Taylor. Courtesy

“I think with the Mayor-elect Bynum’s experience as a former city councilor, and with (Chief of Staff) Jack Blair’s position (as council policy analyst), I think this administration will be able to execute that incredibly well,” Taylor said.

She’s not worried about the inevitable backlash her selection will elicit. She is, after all, a Democrat going to work for a Republican. Can you imagine?

“We have nonpartisan elections in Tulsa, and …. as the mayor-elect has said, making a city great isn’t about national politics, it’s about impacting local lives every day,” Taylor said. “That’s the (belief) of Mayor Bynum that I am excited to follow.”

A cooking class in Northern California sounds pretty good. So I had to ask again, why take the job?

“I love Tulsa, and I am impressed by the vision and the energy of Mayor Bynum and his administration, and I can’t wait to be part of the team that executes that vision,” Taylor said.

So there you go. Kathy Taylor is coming back to City Hall, and she sounds anxious to get to work.

“Getting rested and ready to get back on it,” she said, as the phone call ended.