Voter Guide

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Tulsa City Council District 6 Choose 1

The local laws of Tulsa (called city ordinances) are passed by the Council, which is the legislative body. The Council, through ordinances and resolutions, provides for licenses, permits, and certificates which are issued by city departments and agencies. Appeals of such actions are subject to review by the Council. The Council approves the mayor's budget, and has the power to conduct investigations and hearings concerning the conduct of city government.All city councilors elected will serve two-year terms and are elected by the resident voters in each of nine geographic city council districts. Voters living in City Council District 6 in the City of Tulsa will vote for one of three candidates on August 25, 2020.

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Candidate picture

Christian Bengel (NP)

Lead Technician for Communications Company

Biographical Information

Campaign Phone (918) 638-9855
Professional Experience Level3/CenturyLink 2011-Present WorldCom/MCI/Verizon Business 2000-2010 City of Tulsa 1994-2000 US Army 1986-1994
Education Electronics Technology 1997 - 2000 Tulsa Community College Tulsa, OK Computer Concepts 1993-1994 Micro Computer Technology Fairfax, VA Combat Signaler and Electronics 1986-1987 United States Army Signal School Fort Gordon, GA
Volunteer Service Tulsa County Sheriff's Office Reserve Deputy (retired) 1999-2016.

What experience, insights and abilities will you bring to the City Council that make you especially qualified for the position?

I have probably the most diverse background of any candidate currently in office, or running. As a combat veteran, a retired law enforcement officer, father, husband, previous business owner, corporate employee, former City of Tulsa employee, I'm not sure anyone can match my life experience. My decision making looks at long-term gains versus short-sighted. I involve as many people as possible to have as many facts available for critical thinking. I believe in wise spending of tax dollars, instead of wasteful spending to emulate the ideas of other cities incomparable to Tulsa's infrastructure. Identify and eliminate special interest groups from having louder voices than citizens, that have agendas that are counter-productive and control leaders.

What are your top priorities for your constituent area?

The TOP issue that people voice, are the number of unlawful businesses operating in East Tulsa. This culture that has been allowed to fester, and has angered folks. Allowance has caused legitimate business to leave East Tulsa. We need to create a coalition of businesses in East Tulsa. Public safety. Create more focused groups in neighborhoods that don't have formal HOAs, by using the 4-house approach. Continue the drive to get more participation in the RING doorbell program with TPD, and additional officers at higher times of opportunity for crime. Light up the neighborhood campaign, to make it less attractive. East Tulsa diversity group. Get all cultures together to discuss issues, and determine how we as neighbors can solve some of our own issues without government. Identify respected leaders in those communities. Shed the term "Little Mexico" as a derogatory term used by citizens to describe East Tulsa.

How do you plan to involve citizens in the decision-making process?

I plan on using Town Halls, Nextdoor app, and Facebook. Folks who have busy schedules need alternative methods to stay connected in order to know what's going on in their community. I believe that these avenues give more than a handful of folks the knowledge and understanding that is missing with current leadership. They claim to understand the citizens, but don't use the tools readily available, and where their constituents are most connected. Leaders should keep citizens informed, and when big issues arise, such as the mask mandate, they should lead the discussion to involve as many citizens as possible. Votes on an issue shouldn't come as a surprise to the community. Until I started my campaign for City Council, I had never met, nor heard of my representative. This speaks volumes to me as to how little effort was made to reach out to the whole, versus a few.

What would you do as a City Council member to positively impact efforts to attract new employers and retain those we currently have?

We have to create a place that people want to visit, and spend their money. The Gathering Place was a great start, but it's not enough. Bell's was a great family venue that many people have expressed regret in losing. We need to find more business that has that same appeal. Recreational venues are what drive our dollars down the road to OKC. We have to fix that, and create additional attractions for families, and teens. I personally would love to see Bell's come back with updated equipment, but if not them, some other operation. We need to make it easy for businesses to do business in Tulsa by creating tax packages or TIFs that encourage new business. Tesla not choosing Tulsa is a loss of jobs and revenues. This is the most recent, but what caused Tulsa to lose other big opportunities? These are the questions the public needs to know. We also have to eliminate unlawful businesses.

Do you believe the mask mandate is helpful? Please expand on why or why not.

I think the intended mandate is having the intended effect as it relates to our services, and business communities. This is where the partnership of the City's government should have created its coalition in the first place in my opinion. The great aspect of business, is that it's not public domain, so they can and may institute restrictions on those they tender services to. I think groups like the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor's Office could have used their influence effectively without resorting to a mask mandate. With controversy over fraud, testing, reporting of data, and selective certification of experts, it created a divide. Leaders need to do a better job at answering questions surrounding this, instead of letting disinformation spread throughout the community. Leaders need to embrace opposing sides of every issue in public forum, so that citizens can better understand, and more readily accept decisions made.

Are you planning to accept/have accepted campaign contributions from the Fraternal Order of Police, and if so, why?

The FOP decided in November 2019 to support the incumbent Connie Dodson without entertaining or determining who would be on the ballot for the upcoming election. My campaign started in August of 2019, and I was told at the Tulsa Regional Chamber luncheon that they would be supporting her. I've never met, nor spoken to anyone in the FOP, and wasn't even given a reason why they wouldn't support a retired law enforcement officer. Since the FOP gave Connie an award in 2019, their support was purely political, and they told my strategist that they didn't think I could unseat the incumbent. Being a retired law enforcement officer, and not being supported by a law enforcement group, it has been a little more than discouraging.

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Connie Dodson (NP)

Tulsa City Councilor

Biographical Information

Campaign Phone (918) 234-3102
Professional Experience Tulsa City Council, Realtor, and Photographer
Education Associates Degree, and Continuing education at NSU
Volunteer Service Oklahoma Coalition Against Human Trafficking Legislative Committee, NEO Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Joy in the Cause, and United way

What experience, insights and abilities will you bring to the City Council that make you especially qualified for the position?

My previous terms on the council has provided knowledge and experience, garnered by working through issues, and working with countless residents to address their concerns. I gained experience while working on two funding packages (Vision & Improve Our Tulsa), a Tax Increment Financing project (in District 6), with the Tulsa Chamber on One Voice, and with Oklahoma legislators on city issues and on sales tax exemption bills for Veterans. I have experience gained by countless meetings and discussions over natural disasters & emergencies, funding issues, at the city & state level, budget issues, ordinances, code enforcement, Board of Adjustments, zoning, fire & police, and developers. I was previously employed by Tulsa Transit and have gained additional experience in public transportation and other methods of travel. Additionally, I serve on the “Oklahoma Coalition Against Human Trafficking Legislative Committee” and on the new “East Tulsa Main Street” board in the 21st and Garnett area.

What are your top priorities for your constituent area?

With each funding opportunity that has come my way, I have fought for significant investments and improvements in public safety & infrastructure, transportation & street maintenance, targeted economic development, and our neighborhoods & community. These are all still very important to District 6. I will continue to work on funding for street maintenance & transportation, and work to maximize those efforts. I am having discussions on developing a new retail/commercial corridor in District 6 that will serve both the district and the city. I helped develop the new “East Tulsa Main Street” to focus efforts on improving the 21st and Garnett area as it develops into an “International District” within Tulsa. I secured funding for a new fire station, park investments (including the first water feature east of Memorial) and a health clinic. In “Improve Our Tulsa” District 6 gained funding for roadwork on 11 miles of arterial streets, 10 intersections, 7 bridges, and 6 neighborhood sections.

How do you plan to involve citizens in the decision-making process?

When I am confident we can do it safely, I will resume my regular town hall meetings, where I engage with the community and get feedback on issues. I bring in speakers like Crime Stoppers, EMSA, emergency management, and cover issues like code enforcement, animal control, project information, and future funding packages. I have quarterly panel discussions, where city department heads come and attendees engage with them. I have occasional breakfast meetings, special project meetings, and Coffee with the Cops. I have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/District6digest) where city and community information is shared, and they can always send email to dist6@tulsacouncil.org or call the office at 918-596-1926 or my home at 918-234-3102.

I have considered virtual meetings, but have not yet decided if that format will best serve my constituents, as most of my meetings include a robust question and answer session with the guest speaker(s) as well as myself.

What would you do as a City Council member to positively impact efforts to attract new employers and retain those we currently have?

I would continue to support the city and the chamber in it’s efforts to attract new employers and, continue to support business when we can through incentives, as we are doing now, for businesses that are struggling with economic issues associated with Covid-19. I also support businesses by shopping locally when I can. I will personally work with businesses operating in the district when they have issues and with businesses looking to move into the district. I recently met with a business wanting to move his manufacturing operations from China and connected him with city staff and other contacts to identify potential site locations. I am also working on building a retail/commercial corridor in District 6 and working with commercial developers interested in developing in District 6.

Do you believe the mask mandate is helpful? Please expand on why or why not.

I believe the mask mandate helps as it relates to citizens feeling safer as they engage in public activities, but provides a false since of security. The more important issue is not if you are wearing a mask, but time spent in the presence of an infected person. When asked directly, local experts agree that nearly all positive cases can be traced back to an individual being around an infected person for an extended period of time, not from random activities such as shopping.

The ordinance reads, “There is no specific penalty for violation of this ordinance.” Which means if a business has a mask policy, and a person refuses to wear a mask (absent an exemption), and refuses to leave, the business can call the police and file trespassing charges. They could do that anyway, and no business is forced to comply, because there is no enforcement.

Additionally, the entire population under 18 is exempt from wearing masks because the city has limited jurisdiction over juveniles.

Are you planning to accept/have accepted campaign contributions from the Fraternal Order of Police, and if so, why?

Yes, I have accepted campaign contributions from the Fraternal Order of Police. I was also named Councilor of the year for 2019, and endorsed for 2020.

I have not always had the support of the FOP. The previous president wanted me to bend on an issue and I refused. That didn’t sit well. I had won without their support in my first election for District 6, and felt I could win without their support the second time, and I told him as much.

I don’t accept donations in exchange for promises, expected outcomes, or compromising my core values. I accept donations from organizations and individuals who support me because they believe I’m the best person to represent the community.