Tulsans will go to the polls Tuesday to vote on who will be their next mayor. The crowded, all-male field features seven candidates vying for a four-year term as the city’s top elected official.
The pool of those running includes incumbent Mayor G.T. Bynum, who ousted an incumbent in the 2016 Tulsa mayoral election and started his tenure as a widely popular politician in the city. Since then, however, Bynum has drawn criticism for his staunch support of allowing the television show Live PD to film in Tulsa and his inaction regarding a controversial rally for President Donald Trump in June that local health officials said was a bad idea owing to COVID-19.
The field features an array of small business owners, community organizers and activists. But to win the whole enchilada, someone will need to receive more than 50 percent of the vote under Tulsa’s city charter (which also has five amendments on Tuesday’s ballot). If that does not happen in such a crowded field, the top two finishers would advance to a general election.
Presented in alphabetical order, the following candidate summaries are compiled from publicly available information. The Tulsa World asked a series of questions to each candidate, and their answers can be read here. The New York Times also highlighted the Tulsa mayoral election Sunday.
Profession: Incumbent mayor of Tulsa
Experience: Elected as Tulsa’s 40th mayor in 2016, Bynum is seeking another term as the city’s top elected official. Prior to becoming mayor, Bynum served as a staffer to former U.S. Sens. Don Nickels and Tom Coburn. He later worked in real estate and founded a lobbying firm.
Platform: It’s been a rocky summer for Bynum, who drew criticism for allowing the Trump rally in June during the coronavirus pandemic. His stances on police issues — including what he later called his “dumb and overly-simplistic” comments on national TV about the shooting death of Terence Crutcher — have also rankled some Tulsans in the wake of George Floyd’s death. And in early July, he sent mixed signals on the city’s mask mandate, which was later enacted.
If re-elected Bynum has vowed to push for police department reform, job creation and improvement of the city’s streets, long a point of contention with residents. Bynum also said he will work to reduce waste in the city’s budget.
Profession: Construction manager and small business owner
Experience: Immel has spent 15 years with the U.S. Green Building Council. This is his first run for elected office.
Platform: Among Immel’s top priorities are ensuring all Tulsans have equal protection by their police force and developing successful and sustainable business development solutions that create jobs. Immel would also work to establish more local control of city government, something in which he believes the Oklahoma Legislature is too involved.
Profession: Project manager and small business owner
Experience: Reddick finished third in a 2018 special election for the Tulsa City Council District 7 seat
Platform: Reddick bills himself a strong Christian conservative who opposes mask mandates. Among Reddick’s goals if elected are cutting taxes, bolstering the city’s police force and working to build coalitions he says can make Tulsa a better city in which to live.
Greg Robinson II
Profession: Director of family and community ownership at the Met Cares Foundation
Experience: Former field organizer for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Platform: Among Robinson’s goals if elected is re-imagining and improving public safety, establishing equitable education opportunities for all of Tulsa’s kids and investing in public health, especially for children. Robinson would also work to implement clearer and more coherent efforts at combating COVID-19 in the city.
Profession: Real estate
Experience: Tay was a candidate in the 2016 Tulsa mayoral election and created a viral video moment along the way — “Come on, Matt Damon, get me out of here” — when he interrupted a televised debate from which he and other lesser-known candidates had been excluded. He also ran unsuccessfully for Tulsa City Council in 2014 and 2018, and he teased a U.S. Senate bid earlier this year.
Platform: If elected Tay has promised to create more police oversight and also a better novel coronavirus virus response with expanded testing for citizens, though Tay has said on his Facebook page that the “war on the pandemic will kill more than the pandemic itself.”
Experience: Walker is a U.S. Navy veteran and serves as an associate minister at his church. This is his first run for elected office.
Platform: As a small business owner, Walker sees economic development as central to Tulsa’s future. He favors diversifying opportunities for prospective business owners and promoting economic activity in underdeveloped parts of Tulsa. He also wants to bolster public transportation.
Profession: Insurance broker
Experience: This is Whitlow’s first run for elected office
Platform: Among Whitlow’s priorities is eliminating food deserts in the city. He also favors building up citywide internet access and adding to Tulsa’s transportation options and infrastructure. Whitlow also wants to make the economic divide between the city’s south side and north side more equitable, providing the same opportunities for citizens everywhere.