Longtime leaders Jabar Shumate and Joe Williams to face off in Senate District 11 Democratic primary
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
6/06/12 at 8:12 AM
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Two longtime north Tulsa leaders face off in the Senate District 11 Democratic primary June 26.
Four-term state Rep. Jabar Shumate, 36, and former Tulsa City Councilor Joe Williams, 56, will vie to take over the seat being vacated by Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre.
Shumate said he emphasizes education and health issues in his campaign.
State funding to schools is "deplorable," and talk of state bond issues and tax cuts has voters wound up, he said.
"We make the mistake of thinking the voter doesn't get it," he said. "They get it."
When Tulsa Public Schools officials had to plan to cut 75 teaching positions because of low state funding, a state tax cut is out of the question, he said.
Superintendent Keith Ballard said Monday that funding from budget savings and an anonymous donor will save 31 or 32 of those 75 teacher positions, which were recently marked for elimination because of the end of federal Jobs Bill funding.
The state has made progress in putting together the infrastructure of health-care improvements in north Tulsa, but now it's time to make sure city, county and state health agencies are working together, he said.
Senate District 11 has a high minority population and traditionally has been represented by a Democrat - giving it "double minority" status, Shumate said.
He said the bridge-building skills he learned from his mentors - Eason McIntyre and University of Oklahoma President David Boren - will be very valuable as he tries to meet the district's needs in a Legislature dominated by white Republicans.
"I think our community needs someone in the Senate seat who has an understanding of the process and how to get things done," Shumate said. "You can disagree with someone from a policy standpoint, but if you have a good relationship, that's the first step toward compromise and attaining your goals."
Williams said he had to think hard about his decision to re-enter public life.
A five-term city councilor from 1994-2004, Williams also served as a state and local leader of the NAACP. He ran for the state House in 2004 and was defeated by Shumate.
He is emphasizing further economic development, youth development, health issues and prison reform in his campaign.
District 11 has many consumers but needs to develop more entrepreneurs, and state policy can make that happen, he said.
"We need to get into being employers and small-business owners," Williams said. "Turn the money around in our own community so that it can grow."
Targeted tax credits and incentives for underdeveloped areas can help the area prosper, he said.
Williams said he is proud of his City Council record of economic revitalization efforts for north Tulsa, especially the North Pointe Business Center development, the Pine Street and Peoria Avenue development, and safe senior citizen housing at Crestview, and he said he can contribute more from the state Senate.
Williams also emphasizes more school funding.
"I think one of the big frustrations is there's not enough resources being put into the classrooms, books, computers, high technology that will be needed to be successful in the future," he said.
Williams said he expects to be outspent by Shumate during the campaign but thinks he can win with a vigorous grass-roots volunteer effort.
Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly five to one in the district.
The winner of the primary will face Republican David Bell and independent Curtis Mullins in the Nov. 6 general election.
Original Print Headline: Longtime leaders to battle in primary
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Rep. Jabar Shumate (left) and Joe Williams: Shumate, a four-term state representative, and Williams, a former Tulsa city councilor, will vie to take over the seat being vacated by Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre