Tulsa, OK – My name is Mark Perkins and I am the Independent Choice for Mayor of Tulsa.
I have to wear two hats today. My candidate hat, and my citizen hat. Really it is the same hat; I am in this race because I wholeheartedly believe this city needs a new voice and a new approach.
Tulsa needs a citizen who wants to give himself to his city not take the city for himself. So here I am, disturbed and disheartened by what I have learned about the way things work in politics. For someone with my level of passion, optimism, and love for this city, let me tell you that politics is not good for one's health.
As a citizen, I fear we have forgotten our principles. I fear we have disengaged. I fear we have traded our passion for apathy, our conviction for indifference, and our fortitude for the false comfort of partisan fraternity.
But as a candidate I am here to lead us back from the edge of mediocrity. I have a better approach, I have a better plan, and I am ready, willing, and able to lead us to a better future.
So as a candidate, let me show you what the citizens want our campaigns to look like.
I believe partisan politics creates more obstacles than solutions to our local problems. I will work with anybody from any party who is willing to contribute their time or talent to addressing our common challenges.
I believe it is the fundamental responsibility of any elected official to respect the taxpayers by maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste. So my team will re-examine every position, protocol, contract, and procedure because there is always a better way to do business and a good government is one that has the attitude and flexibility to improve.
My first task as Mayor will be to tighten the cities' belt until our budget situation improves.
During that time I will also work on planning initiatives designed to expand our revenues through responsible and intelligent economic development that benefits every part of town because these revenues provide funding for our roads, schools, and public safety officials.
I will immediately focus on proposals for sensible modifications to our zoning and building codes, because I believe this will encourage growth, spur private investment, increase occupancy rates, and attract businesses to parts of town that otherwise are home to empty buildings and rising crime rates.
These initiatives will increase our revenues without raising taxes, and these revenues will be used to improve our municipal economic health and help us pay for the core services our citizens expect.
As Mayor I will position Education on my priority list where it should be .AT THE VERY TOP.
And don't tell me Education is not a city issue. I know how the system works. But it is our kids that are being undereducated in underfunded and under-performing schools and this has been the norm for far too long under the status quo system AND THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE.
Until we find a way to properly fund every school, pay every capable teacher, and enhance the effectiveness of educating our children UNTIL WE MAKE THESE THINGS A PRIORITY our city will be caught in a generational cycle that includes poverty, crime, despondency, and racial and geographical tension.
There are solutions Tulsa. WHAT WE NEED ARE LEADERS.
Under the status quo, the norm is to kick the can on down the road with shortsighted and politically safe solutions to the same problems we have been facing for decades.
The latest result is a half-billion dollar tax package that will take the roads from grading out at a D to grading out at a C. That is not a solution THAT IS A BAND AID
It is time to find new solutions to our old problems and to do that Tulsa you need to let go of the status quo.
If you are going to expect a different outcome, you need to elect a different kind of leader.
A leader needs the focus to address current problems AND the foresight to prevent future ones.
That is why I will support responsible and sustainable development initiatives to bring the river corridor to its potential as a mixed use, retail, and recreational area that will enhance the quality of life for Tulsans.
The River is a massively underutilized asset and will be a critical generator of revenue in the future, and will help make Tulsa a more dynamic city that is attractive to tourists, businesses, and young professionals.
The city cannot afford this right now but we must make it a priority right now and plan it properly so when we are in a better position we can strike when the iron is hot.
We flat out are going to need the revenues such an investment would generate. Preparing now will improve our financial situation later, so doing so is the financially sensible thing to do. Part of good government involves creating conditions that will position the next generation for municipal health and prosperity.
Now, as a citizen and as a candidate, I'll tell you what does not make financial sense. [pause] Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on negative ads attacking your partisan opponent while telling Tulsans absolutely nothing about where you stand on the issues they care about.
Mr. Adelson, Mr. Bartlett: Why are you spending all of your time and your contributors' money tearing each other down while avoiding candid discourse with the one leader who is trying to build Tulsa up.
For the good of the city, show some leadership. Call a truce and give Tulsans what they want and what democracy requires the free exchange of ideas in the public forum.
Tulsans, citizens, you need to demand this from these candidates. They are not displaying the kind of leadership this city needs.
And the polls will back me up. Despite efforts to keep my name out of the citizen's ears by offering only two options to the questions, the numbers are still showing record numbers of "undecideds" at this late stage.
A quarter of Tulsans are either supporting me or "undecided"?
I believe Tulsans want and deserve the comfort of being able to make an informed choice on who will lead the city for the next four years.
So, gentlemen, if you have the confidence in your knowledge on the issues and conviction in your positions, then you should have the courage to stand in front of the citizens of Tulsa and earn your votes.
Let's talk about the issues, in detail, for all of Tulsa to hear.
Out of respect for the citizens and love for the city, I am asking the two of you to join me and earn the confidence of Tulsans through respectful debates, about Tulsa issues, with the media present.
Members of the media, Tulsans, fellow citizens I would like to ask you to take ownership of your city and help me out. I have a few questions for Mr. Adelson and Mr. Bartlett., who will be joining me on the ballot.
1. Will you demonstrate your respect for me, my supporters, the undecided citizens of Tulsa, and the principles of democracy by supporting my inclusion in all upcoming forums or debates to which you have both been invited?
Now I want to be clear about something. A group or organization can invite whoever they want to forums or debates. And I fully support organizations asking any one of the candidates to speak.
But there is reason to be suspicious of the motives of an organization who holds these events with only two of the three candidates or behind closed doors. It is dishonest and I hold Tulsa to a higher standard than that.
Therefore, from this point forward when I learn of these kinds of manipulated events I am going to post the names and contact information of the organizers of these events on my website and we will see if Tulsans agree with me.
2. Will you put Tulsa first by agreeing to one debate or forum with the three main candidates, every week until the election starting the week of October 12th, with media present, about Tulsa issues, so the voters can make an informed choice on November 10?
All you have to do is be willing to be open and honest with the good people of Tulsa.
Claiming to have prior commitments is inexcusable. You are running to serve the citizens and there is nothing more important than informing them about their choices on November 10. So move them, or cancel them.
I propose our campaigns work with members of the media and interested organizations to put these events on the calendar in the next week.
Now if you are willing we can make this happen for the citizens of Tulsa. I propose our campaigns work the details out with members of the media and other organizations. This can happen if you support free and open debates designed to inform Tulsans.
Finally, let me just tell you, as a citizen, how I believe democracy should work in this country. Nobody is entitled to anything. You have to earn it, and you have to earn by demonstrating leadership and winning the confidence of the people.
Its not about money, its not about name, its about proving to the citizens that you have what it takes to make good decisions, to work well with others, and to give yourself to your city, its citizens, and its future.
I believe Dewey and Tom are good people who have lost sight of what's most important right now. Please guys, lets debate, lets disagree, but lets not fall into this kind of politicking. That is not what Tulsa is all about. Politicians should reflect the character of the people they represent.
As a citizen, it is my hope that we can return the focus to Tulsa. As a citizen and a candidate, I believe we need to let go of the status quo.