Former Mayors Debate Overhauling Tulsa City Government

Friday, September 16th 2011, 9:45 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- All the bickering at city hall has some saying we should scrap our current form of city government and replace it with something new.

Two former mayors squared off Friday to debate both sides of the issue.

In November, voters will decide if we should adopt a system more like Oklahoma City's or stick with the government we have.

Tulsa is sitting on the verge of a revolution; a ballot question to change our city's government. But the looming vote isn't packing in the crowds.

"From the citizen's perspective when you talk about the structure of city government nothing could be more boring," said Rondger Randle, Former Tulsa Mayor.

But Tulsa's former Mayor Roger Randle says nothing is more important.

"It affects all of us directly and very deeply. So for those reasons it really does pay to pay attention," Randle said.

Tulsans will decide whether to stick with a strong mayor form of government, started by former Mayor Randle, or adopt a system similar to Oklahoma City.

"I'd vote for this if I lived in Tulsa," said former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphries.

Mayor Humphries joined Mayor Randle to talk over the two systems at a forum sponsored by Tulsa Now.

Down the turnpike, they have a city manager system, which basically runs the city like a corporation.

The city manager handles the day to day operations of the city, serving as the CEO, and reports to the mayor and the council which sets policy, similar to a board of directors.

Mayor Humphries says the city manager system forces the council and the mayor to play nice.

"I think it encourages people to work together in a more collegial manner. There's no veto. Councilors aren't going to lob a bomb at the mayor who's sitting down the hall," he said.

"I think there are a lot of reasons to think that there is nothing about our form of government that produces acrimony, people produce acrimony," Randle said.

But he concedes what works in theory may not always work in practice. Both men said either system can work well. It really depends on the personalities and the effectiveness of the leaders within those systems.

9/1/2011 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Overrides Veto; Change In City Government Will Go To Voters