Battle Brewing At Tulsa City Hall Over New Election Maps

Tuesday, June 21st 2011, 7:20 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- There's a legal battle at Tulsa City Hall over the maps to be used for the next city council elections.

The city just finished drawing up new maps, but some councilors want to use the old maps drawn up 10 years ago.

There's an underlying issue. At least one councilor believes the new map would make it harder for him to be re-elected, but the issue at hand is timing and whether it's legal to use the new maps.

The issue could determine not where people will vote, but which council candidates will be on their ballots.

Redistricting shifted some voters between council districts and one councilor, Jack Henderson, doesn't like how it turned out.

"We don't get a chance to do this but once every 10 years, we've got to make sure we get it right," he said.

Now there's an argument between the council and the city attorney's office. It's over which map will be used for fall elections: the new map, or the old one.

See the new election map

See the old election map

"I think right now the 2001 maps are the only maps that are final," Councilor Rick Westcott said.

Councilors are conflicted because a protest period for the new map doesn't end until July 10th, 2011, the day before candidates file for office.

"I'm not running for re-election and they didn't really carve up my district and I think its fine, it meets all the requirements, but at the end of the day, I don't think the new one is final until the protest period is final," Councilor Bill Christiansen said.

Assistant city attorney Pat Boulden argued that doesn't matter, but councilors have ignored his advice before and seem ready to do it again.

"I cannot in good conscious call for an election on a redistricting map that's not the final map or a lawfully approved map. The only lawfully approved map we have available is the 2001 map at this time," Councilor John Eagleton said.

See what the city attorney's office has to say about the issue

The Mayor thinks the council is making it a political question.

"They feel, in my opinion, that their political future might be in jeopardy, so they want to try to stop it somehow," Mayor Dewey Bartlett said.

For now, it's a standoff between the council and the city attorney's office that will likely be settled in court. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.