Candidates 'speed date' with Tulsa Republican Club
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Friday, July 16, 2010
7/16/10 at 10:13 PM
It was loud in the Summit Club on Friday afternoon — that’s what happens when you let seven politicians speak at the same time.
But that’s exactly what John Tidwell of the Tulsa Republican Club had in mind when he asked Republican candidates to do some speed dating over lunch.
“I just wanted something that could give one-on-one time for the candidates and all of the members of the club,” Tidwell said. “So they had sort of a unique opportunity to hear directly from them and ask questions face-to-face in a very casual setting.”
With Tidwell keeping time, the candidates were given about seven minutes to sit down with a table of guests. When the time was up, Tidwell rang a bell and each candidate proceeded to the next table.
“It kind of feels like the first day of school,” said teacher Michael Masters, one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination for District 3 Tulsa County Commission. “I introduce myself, and then you ask questions.”
Of course, few of the candidates had any real introducing to do, since nearly all of those in attendance are active in Republican politics.
Still, the members said they were happy to be able to sit down with the candidates.
“I liked it because you got to ask them individual questions,” said Charlotte Harer. “I like to be able to do that and see how they answer.”
The candidates seemed to agree.
“I think it’s great for the voters,” said Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy. “I think it’s a little challenging for the candidate because you have to be able to talk over a lot of people from other tables.”
The din of chatter didn’t keep the candidates from getting their messages out, however.
Attorney general candidates Scott Pruitt and Ryan Leonard made their cases without mentioning the other.
Citing recent federal health-care legislation, Pruitt reminded guests that if elected, he would set up a separate unit to fight the expanding role of federal government.
“We need an attorney general who is going to use the office to fight back against Washington,” he said.
Leonard promised to do exactly that, saying his extensive courtroom experience as a former state prosecutor and in private practice makes him the best-qualified candidate to do the job.
“As attorney general of Oklahoma, I will lead the charge,” he said.
Masters, the District 3 County Commission candidate, said he believes in minimal government.
“You should stay small,” Masters said. “You should only do the jobs that you’re required to do.”
City Council Attorney Drew Rees, who is also challenging incumbent District 3 County Commissioner Fred Perry, said he’s out to help create more open, transparent and cooperative government.
A little cooperation would go a long way toward saving taxpayer dollars, Rees said.
“The most easy example is the parks departments,” Rees said. “We’ve got three parks departments — city, county and River Parks. Why are we paying for three?”
Perry said he has something his opponents don’t.
“My business experience is something that distinguishes me,” he said, adding that he has worked hard to cut expenses at Expo Square.
Janet Barresi, who is running for state school superintendent, stressed her experience as the founder of two charter schools in Oklahoma City.
She said the public school system would benefit from the innovation, transparency and accountability charter schools provide, but she insisted that she was not advocating them as a replacement for public schools.
“My best day will be when they close that last charter school due to a lack of interest, when every community school is the parents’ first choice” she said.