City Councilor G.T. Bynum said Monday that he is running for mayor to put an end to the complacency and division that has plagued the city for years and to re-establish it as one of the premier places in the country to work and raise a family.
Bynum, 38, announced his candidacy Sunday. He is the first candidate to formally announce his intention to run; Mayor Dewey Bartlett has begun raising money and has established a campaign committee.
“The really overall message of this campaign is that I think we can unite Tulsans if we are will to focus on the big things that will make us more competitive nationally,” Bynum said.
During a half hour interview with The Frontier, Bynum said his priorities will be to create a comprehensive education strategy for the city; improve and speed up the process for fixing Tulsa’s streets; and to improve relations between the city and county.
“These are all things that are holding us back right now,” Bynum said. “They are all things that are distracting us from being focused on being a world-class city.
“I think I have the ability to build the coalition of people that could change that.”
Bynum said the city for generations has abdicated its role as a champion and facilitator of quality education. That is a role the mayor should assume, Bynum said, and he plans to do just that.
One role the city could play, for example, is to ensure that the pre-kindergarten programs—now funded but unfilled — are fully enrolled.
“I do think we can have a leadership role in pulling all of those stakeholders together and developing more of an education strategy for the city,” Bynum said. “We don’t have one today.”
The city has wasted too much time and energy competing against or bickering with Tulsa County, Bynum said, and that needs to change.
“I think we have spent way too much time competing city versus county, city versus suburbs, city versus even Oklahoma City, when the competition, the game that is being played right now, is a national game.”
He added: “The reality is we are losing ground nationally to other cities right now. We’re getting lapped on economic development by Oklahoma City, by Texas, even by Jenks in the last few months.”
The major difference Tulsans will see in their day-to-day lives should they elect him as mayor is a city government that is open and eager to work with them to effect change, Bynum said.
“But I don’t find a lot of people feeling like the city is asking for their help or is necessarily even interested in that, and I want to change that,” he said.
Bynum said he has been humbled by the encouragement he has received from a diverse group of the community to run for office.
“If it were just political calculation, the smart thing to do is wait, but I did feel a real calling.”
Tulsa’s nonpartisan mayoral election is scheduled for Nov. 8. Candidates must file for office in April, with the the primary scheduled for June.
Should a candidate receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, he or she would be elected mayor.