BY World Editorial Writers
Sunday, November 01, 2009
11/01/09 at 7:07 AM
When you clear away all the nasty advertising and take a close look at things, you recognize that Tulsa has two strong candidates for mayor.
Tom Adelson, the Democrat, has the energy and sharp wits that the mayor's office demands.
Dewey Bartlett, the Republican, has lots of experience and the temperament for the job.
Either would make a good chief executive for the city.
At the same time, a close examination shows that neither candidate is perfect.
Bartlett's good-guy nature and willingness to accommodate others are both attractive and worrisome. As mayor he will have to demonstrate that, more than just a consensus-builder, he can be a decisive and tough leader of City Hall when the occasion demands.
On the other hand, Adelson has sharp elbows and can be sharp tongued, attributes that might help him get things done, or make his time in office contentious and difficult.
While neither is a perfect candidate for mayor, neither, certainly, would be a disaster.
We make no endorsement in the mayor's election, but urge all Tulsa voters to choose the candidate who they think will be best able to lead Tulsa in the difficult times that the city will surely face in the near future.
In disgust with the tenor of much of Bartlett's and Adelson's campaign advertising, some voters may have turned to the strong independent candidate on the ballot, Mark Perkins.
We share that disgust, but cannot share the choice it leads to.
Perkins has insisted that his role is to draw the race back to a discussion of the key issues. He's right that that is where the debate belonged, but an examination of the candidates based on issues and experience does not lead to a vote for Perkins.
He is ambitious and open-minded, but he lacks the experience — and the wisdom that comes from experience — that the office requires.
In some respects this has been a disappointing campaign. The two major candidates spent too much time and money trying to spoil the other guy's good reputation.
We believe that in the long run that is poor politics, because it discourages voters from taking part in the electoral process and discourages future qualified candidates from considering public service.
In part we think the destructive nature of the campaigning is the result of the relatively few major distinctions between Bartlett and Adelson.
It's difficult to determine much difference between the two on things like streets (they're both for them), crime (they're both against it) or any other issue.
There are some differences. For example, Adelson favors non-partisan city elections, while Bartlett has consistently opposed the idea. That's a point in Adelson's favor.
Adelson and Bartlett share very similar backgrounds. They both come from well-known wealthy families from the same part of town (as does Perkins). They're both well educated and have a wealth of legitimate public service credentials.
They are more alike than they are different, which may have fated the campaign to be one of personalities over substance.
So, our city has had to endure back-to-back television ads featuring unflattering pictures, nebulous accusations and a lot of "shame" being tossed around.
That's too bad.
Tulsa is nearing the peak of a dynamic time of building — the BOK Center is finished; ONEOK Field is well under way; a major street program is about to begin in earnest.
Meanwhile, the city has challenges to face.
Financing for City Hall's move has not worked out the way it was anticipated; the city's relationship with the county is a source of constant friction, and the national recession has left the city unable to fully fund basic services such as police and fire protection.
Tulsa has never needed leadership more desperately than it will in the coming days.
We believe both of the major candidates have the potential to be a crackerjack mayor. Both Adelson and Bartlett are qualified and have strong points in their favor. We do not endorse one over the other.