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Top Candidates For Tulsa Mayor Lay Out Plans For Police, Fire Departments

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Candidates Kathy Taylor, Dewey Bartlett and Bill Christiansen. Candidates Kathy Taylor, Dewey Bartlett and Bill Christiansen.
It's always a topic for the candidates, because public safety - mainly police and fire - consumes most of the money spent at City Hall. It's always a topic for the candidates, because public safety - mainly police and fire - consumes most of the money spent at City Hall.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The election next Tuesday in Tulsa could decide who the city's next mayor will be. And that mayor will have to decide how to balance the needs and the cost of public safety.

All three candidates for mayor have political experience with short budgets at City Hall, and all have been in office at times when police and fire were subject to furloughs and layoffs.

It's always a topic for the candidates, because public safety - mainly police and fire - consumes most of the money spent at City Hall.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett and candidate Bill Christiansen believe Tulsa needs more police officers, for certain, while former Mayor Kathy Taylor wants to be certain we have the right number, whatever that is.

6/5/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Mayoral Candidates On Five Key Issues

"We really have to have the right number of officers, but that determination is based on information I don't think we have. I don't think, we've looked at averages of other cities, but I don't know if we should be at average, have more than average, or lower than average," Taylor said.

Christiansen, who was a city councilor when the other two candidates were mayors, criticizes both for cutting public safety to balance the budget.

"The number one thing we need to look at is to make sure the mayor of Tulsa has public safety as a high priority, because we're in the situation we're in today because public safety hasn't been a priority," he said. "All of sudden, in a campaign season, public safety become a priority. It's always been a priority for me."

Mayor Bartlett's next budget calls for only maintaining police and fire levels, but he wants voters to change an existing portion of the sales tax to be dedicated for public safety.

"That does not increase taxes and would provide enough money over three to five years to have two academies - police and fire - per year, and would get 70 new police officers, 45 new firefighters and three dedicated crews to maintain the street system, without raising taxes," Bartlett said.

The firefighters union has endorsed Kathy Taylor for the job, while the police union hasn't endorsed anyone.

Early in-person absentee voting begins Friday at the Tulsa County Election Board office.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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