Mayor-Elect Bartlett Looks to Grow Business-Friendly Environment

Mayor-elect Dewey Bartlett Jr. announced Tulsa is “open for business” during an informal reception the day after his victory over state Senator Tom Adelson. Public relations firm Schnake Turnbo Frank hosted the Nov. 11 gathering at its offices at 20 E. Fifth St. to honor the city’s newly elected officials.
“I am making a commitment that the mayor’s office is open for business, open for the City Council’s business,” Bartlett said. “I have served on the council, and I understand where they are coming from. I respect that and honor it. I want to go forward, arm in arm, with each of these councilors. Wherever we go, whatever needs to be done, we will accomplish it together.”
Bartlett talked about several campaign pledges during a brief interview with the Tulsa Business Journal.
On Nov. 10, Bartlett, a Republican, received 29,948 votes to Democratic candidate Tom Adelson’s 24,211 to become Tulsa’s 39th mayor. Mark Perkins, an Independent, garnered 11,913 votes. Bartlett received 44.9 percent of the vote, while Adelson received 36.3 percent. Perkins earned 17.88 percent of the vote.
‘No’ New Taxes
Reminded of his pledge to not raise taxes, Bartlett said that promise does not extend to utility rates.
“I won’t say that,” he said. “That is outside the realm. I was talking taxes specifically. The costs of services on items like trash is a whole different deal.”
Tulsa Driller
Bartlett also promised to revitalize Tulsa’s energy image.
Asked about the possibility of allowing oil and natural gas drilling within city limits — currently against city ordinances — Bartlett said he likes the idea. President of Keener Oil Co., he has served as a leader on the statewide Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association on several occasions. He’s been an advocate for domestic drilling for years.
“I think we can isolate drilling to a certain area,” he said. “Most of the city-owned property that might see any kind of consequence is away from most residential areas — out by the airport and Mohawk Park.”
The City Council examined the possibility of amending the city’s ban on drilling within the city limits more than a year ago.
Bartlett still sees an opportunity to bring up the subject.
“It would require some horizontal drilling,” he said. “Deposits would be shallow, so there is not a huge amount of money to be made but there is some. I would support using that area (airport, Mohawk Park) and asking for proposals.”
It would be up to to the producer to take on the risk and responsibility of putting the project together, he said.
“They take the risk and the expense,” Bartlett said. “And, if they are successful, Tulsa earns the royalty money.”
Energy Alternatives
Bartlett advocated the idea of using compressed natural gas in city vehicles as one way to promote the region as a center for alternative energy research.
Asked about approving tax incentives for alternative energy companies to open business in Tulsa, Bartlett said, “Anything is on the table.”
“I want Tulsa to become known as a city that promotes and uses alternative energy,” he said. “Especially on the education side with OU-Tulsa, OSU-Tulsa and TU — especially TU, as they have made a commitment to alternative energy.”
Bartlett pointed out the city could use grants to create job opportunities in several alternative energy sectors.
“It could be bio-diesel,” he said. “It could be wind. I am up for anything. Whatever makes sense. We ought to grab and go with it. Make some good things happen.”
As a businessman, Bartlett pledged that Tulsa would be a business-friendly environment and pointed specifically to streamlining the permitting process.
“I have not had to deal with the city process, but I hear it is bad,” he said.
Referring to a recent meeting with Tulsa Metro Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal, Bartlett said the city must act.
“Mike Neal said he had talked to six different heads of companies, large and small, and all six reported having very bad experiences working with the City of Tulsa,” Bartlett said. “That says it all. Anyone who denies that we have a problem, they have their head in the sand.
“Once we find out from the business community where the problems are, then we can make some changes.”
Bartlett plans to hold five forums across the city in his first 100 days of office. He plans to listen and gather ideas about how the city needs to move forward, he said.
“If changes are not made — big-time changes — then we are in trouble,” Bartlett said. “We have to be business-friendly if we are to be competitive. If not, other cities will take it away.”

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