Tulsa County chairman breaks ground

Monday, December 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Wilbert Collins is ready to tackle the array of challenges that come with being the chairman of the three-commissioner board in Tulsa County. And he'll be breaking new ground as he does it.

Collins will be the first black chairman of the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners next year. He already became the first black to hold a Tulsa County office when he was elected as District 1 commissioner last year. The 58-year-old told the Tulsa World that he doesn't consider race important. "I don't see that there are any advantages or disadvantages by me being an Afro-American," he said.

The three commissioners on the board rotate the chairmanship each year. The board chairman is the closest thing the county has to a chief administrator. His new role includes new challenges and an array of public policy duties Collins said he's ready to tackle. He will chair the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority and the Tulsa County Budget Board. He'll represent the county at the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and before other boards and commissions.

Collins will also have to meet with administrative staff to discuss operational issues and take phone calls and letters from anyone interested in doing business with the county or discussing public policy issues. Collins owns a gasoline station and rental properties and has been chairman of several community boards and a bank.

The timing of the rotation schedule allowed Collins to learn during his first year in office. He has gotten a reputation for staying quiet, which he said he did on purpose. "Common sense says you're going to sit still and listen and learn," Collins said. But Collins plans to broach issues of his own. High on his list is the cleanliness of the Tulsa County Courthouse and the Annex Building. Collins said privatization might be the remedy for the shortcomings.