Tulsa Firefighters Knocking On Doors To Oust Several City Councilors

Sunday, August 16th 2009, 6:17 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa firefighters are trying to oust several city councilors and they're going door to door to make their case.  But some are questioning whether that's legal.

The Tulsa firefighters say they are simply exercising their constitutional right, while one of the councilors they are targeting says their tactics are unfair.

Chad Miller, along with several dozen other Tulsa firefighters, spent Sunday afternoon introducing themselves to potential voters.

Members of TFD have canvassed neighborhoods the past several weekends, pushing for city council candidates they would like to see replace several incumbents. In city council District 2, they're backing former firefighter Bart Rhoades.

"I'm just overwhelmed. I can't believe how they tried to support me and help me on this," said Bart Rhoades, a council candidate.

"We just make sure that best candidate for us as a fire department and for the citizens we serve get elected," said Chad Miller, Tulsa Firefighter's Union.

The firefighters are concerned that the city's recent money problems will lead to drastic budget cuts for the department. One of the councilors targeted for replacement, District 5's Bill Martinson, has been candid about the need to cut back.

"The economy is going to dictate that the fire department is going to deal with fewer dollars. All I'm trying to do is give them a heads up and tell them they're going to have to figure out a way to deal with it," said Bill Martinson, Tulsa City Council.

Martinson also points to Tulsa's charter, which does indicate, "no sworn member of the fire department shall take an active part in any campaign for the election of officers of the city, except to vote and privately state a personal opinion."

But the Tulsa Firefighter's Union says its members can do whatever they want off-duty and until told otherwise, they will continue to pound the pavement.

"We're well within our rights to be out here today, not just within this campaign but with the other campaigns. To participate off-duty, it's a right afforded to us by the Constitution of the United States," said Chad Miller.

Firefighters are also actively campaigning against District 4's Eric Gomez and District 2's Rick Westcott.

Union members say they plan to canvass every weekend leading up to the September 8th primary.