County voters reject both parts of Vision2
BY BRIAN BARBER & KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
11/07/12 at 7:33 AM
Election Day Photo Essay: See all the photographs taken by Multimedia Producer John Clanton throughout the day in Tulsa, chronicling what happened and the point of views of Tulsans of both parties.
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Tulsa County voters on Tuesday strongly rejected the $748.8 million Vision2 sales-tax package backed by many government and Tulsa Metro Chamber leaders.
"I don't even know what to say because I'm so incredibly disappointed," Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said at the somber Vision2 supporters' watch party at the downtown Holiday Inn.
The airport-industry-related Proposition 1 failed with 56 percent opposed, while the quality-of-life Proposition 2 failed with 54.6 percent opposed.
Proposition 1 totaled $386.88 million and would have gone toward improvements at three key city-owned airport industrial sites that are in use by American Airlines, Spirit AeroSystems and IC Bus.
It also would have established a deal-closing fund for leaders to help lure new and grow existing area businesses.
Proposition 2 totaled $361.9 million and would have been apportioned to the county and its municipalities based on population for quality-of-life projects, including a new juvenile justice center, Arkansas River low-water dams, and Tulsa Zoo, park and library upgrades, among others.
At a watch party held at Tally's Good Eats, Vision2 opponents said the voters had spoken loud and clear.
"We are thrilled the citizens of Tulsa didn't buy in to the sell," said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith. "This is a true David-and-Goliath story, considering the amount of money and people on their side and our side ... It was common sense versus nonsense."
The group, Citizens for a Better Vision, heavily relied on social media to get its message out, while supporters waged an expensive media campaign.
Touted as an early extension of Vision 2025, the 0.6 percent Vision2 tax would have run from 2017 until 2029. The genesis of the proposal was the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings of American Airlines. Government and Tulsa Metro Chamber officials wanted to do something to prevent further job losses at the local maintenance base.
In their concession speech, Vision2 Co-chairs Don Walker, Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo said the defeat doesn't diminish their commitment to moving the region forward.
"We will regroup and collectively look at other ways we might approach the public," Bartlett said. "We have to support economic development and our infrastructure as a community."
Vuillemont-Smith said the defeat of the proposals came from not having enough time or information to determine whether the city needs the projects.
"It was too fast," she said. "(The tax) doesn't expire until 2017. It was too rushed. It was too sloppy. It was too vague."
Tulsa Metro Chamber CEO Mike Neal said Tulsa faces "an immediate risk of losing jobs" by the failure of Vision2.
"Our region remains in a daily competition with cities in this area of the country and across the nation for jobs and a skilled workforce," he said.
Vision2 would have helped the airport industrial complex be marketable for a viable, long-term growth industry, he said.
Council Chairman G.T. Bynum and Councilor Blake Ewing were both vocally against Proposition 1.
"It's important that Tulsans know our city is still the kind of place where businesses are going to want to relocate and grow without taxpayers having to pay them to do so," Bynum said.
"I am proud of Tulsans for rejecting any assumption to the contrary. We can do better, and we will."
World Staff Writer Ginnie Graham contributed to this story.
Original Print Headline: County voters reject both parts of Vision2
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313 Brian Barber 918-581-8322
Ronda Vuillemont-Smith and Roscoe Turner celebrate on Vision2 being defeated at a watch party at Tally's on Tuesday night. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World