District 8 council candidates meet in forum
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
The Republican candidates for the District 8 City Council seat agreed on plenty Tuesday night during a forum at the Tulsa Technology Center’s South Campus.
But George Gibbs, 57, and Phil Lakin Jr., 44, don’t see eye to eye on everything related to city government.
For starters, Lakin, the Tulsa Community Foundation CEO, said he supports Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s effort to break up the Public Works Department.
“Public Works is huge,” Lakin told an audience of about 50 people. “I am not opposed to it being broken up.”
He added: “I want Public Works to be a very efficient, robust department, and I think by breaking it up you may make it more efficient and robust.”
Gibbs, an attorney, wasn’t so sure. He said he was opposed to breaking up the department if it was just something Bartlett thought up “at 3 o’clock in the morning.”
“If it is something that has no logical reason and will lead to inefficiency, I’m opposed to it,” Gibbs said.
The two also differed on a potential tax to fund development along the Arkansas River.
“I am opposed to a river tax because I regard that as an increase in taxes,” Gibbs said. “Leave it to the politicians, if they institute such a thing, for it to go on forever.”
Lakin said any such tax would have to be confined to good, small-scale projects that “are going to cause people to come to Tulsa and cause people to increase the money they are putting toward our general fund.”
Given the limited methods municipalities have to raise funds in Oklahoma, it is important to take advantage of the resources the city has that could help generate tax revenue, Lakin said.
“We have a very unique geographical feature running right through the heart of our city … that is very underdeveloped on the Tulsa side,” Lakin said.
Gibbs said he is “almost tempted to say yes” to the council-city manager form of government the City Council has proposed.
“Hey, the Oklahoma City form of government is similar to what the City Council is proposing,” Gibbs said. “It works very well, and we’re a whole lot better than Oklahoma City is.”
Lakin said he does not support a change of government, in part because he has lost confidence in the current City Council.
“I would not give this council the ability to hire a city manager,” Lakin said. “I still have confidence in the checks and balances that are there between the mayor and the council.
“I think we need a robust personnel change (in the council), and I think we will have that.”
Lakin and Gibbs will meet Sept. 13 in the Republican primary, with the winner to take on Democrat William Suliburk in the Nov. 8 general election.
The incumbent, Republican Bill Christiansen, is not seeking re-election.
Tuesday’s forum was sponsored by the South Tulsa 912 project, Sun Meadows Homeowners Association, precinct committees and other interested residents of the district.
Phil Lakin Jr.