Qualifications: A Response to Ken Brune’s Mail
Posted on November 5, 2011
Ken Brune and I have made the full circuit of debates and forums together in recent weeks. We’ve visited neighborhood groups, service clubs, a church, a radio station, and some TV stations. We’ve answered the same basic questions several times. The question about how well we can get along often comes up. In a recent debate with the Kiwanis Club, a question was asked about how we hope to resolve these issues. That debate and our answers to one question in particular has lead to a disappointing mischaracterization in a mail piece sent by Mr. Brune. I think it’s important that voters know the context surrounding the quote he chose to use on his mailer. Here’s a link to that Kiwanis debate. It’s at about 20:50. Here’s the typed out version for your viewing pleasure.
MODERATOR: “The current City Council and Mayor Bartlett have had their struggles in management style. After next month’s election the Council will be new, but the mayor will be old (No offense Mayor Bartlett). What should be done, if anything, to smooth out the relationship rough spots?”
KEN BRUNE: “I think the council should sit down with the mayor and discuss what the mayor would like to achieve and the mayor should discuss what the council would like to achieve. Part of my background, as mentioned, over long term, has been to negotiate and to mediate. I think that if we had a proper time to visit with one another, we could resolve any of these difficulties.”
ME: ”Look, you’re not electing people to city hall to get along. You’re electing them, in fact, to argue. I think what we’re seeing there is that the majority of the issues and the majority of the disagreements have very little to do with advancement of the city, or with making this a better place. They’ve become personal. You’re putting nine people in a room from nine different parts of town, nine different ways of life, nine different backgrounds. They better disagree, and frankly, the reason we have a mayor balanced with the council is so they can check each other. So yes, I think as the leader, it’s the mayor’s responsibility, in many aspects, to present the big broad vision, so that everyone joins under that umbrella of hope for the city.
When it comes to the day to day politics, it’s naive to expect that those ten people will always get along. That’s where I think you elect the personalities to the conversation who can pursue the bigger picture at all costs and put the petty things behind us and work tirelessly on advancing the city.”
Mr. Brune chose to pull the part of my answer where I used the word “argue” out of context and use it in a mail piece that arrived today, along with a list of our experience and qualifications. This is clearly an effort to paint me as an inexperienced candidate who doesn’t value harmony and compromise and to distinguish himself as the experienced candidate who will “get along” with others. He’s playing off of the community’s frustration with our current representatives who are often accused (whether right or wrong) of being difficult and childish. Naturally, if one reads the whole answer or listens to the audio on KWGS, they’ll find that I’m as against that negative activity and lack of progress as anyone. They’ll also find Mr. Brune’s naive assertion that the reason for our current discord is The Mayor and The Council’s inability to find a “proper time” to “visit” or share their goals with each other. Ask anyone at City Hall if they think that’s an accurate assessment or if it’s just political speak. I know what they’ll say, because I’ve been there engaged in the process. I’ve been participating. I’ve been at City Hall in several different capacities, building relationships and gaining my own relevant “experience.”
It’s not uncommon in races like these for a candidate to send a last second mail piece mischaracterizing his opponent, as there’s little time for the opponent to respond and no time to respond with a competing mailer. Our last mail piece had to be finished yesterday by noon in order to go out before Tuesday. You’ll find when you get it in the mail that I’ve chosen not to go after Mr. Brune with disingenuous statements in my mail piece, but to let my record stand on its own. I’m optimistic that voters will appreciate that I’ve insisted on running a positive and honest campaign. I’ve felt like it will help serve as an indicator of what type of behavior they can expect from me should I be elected.
Mr. Brune knew exactly what he was doing when he prepared the piece. I explained my statement in detail on the comments section of the Tulsa World article. Here is a link to that article. My comments are near the bottom of the page right now. This has been posted online since October 25th. Also, Mr. Brune heard me explain this in detail at last week’s debate at The Unitarian Church, yet he still chose to use the quote, knowing that it was not an accurate representation of my actual sentiments. This is a dishonest political tactic, and I’m responding in this way because it’s one of the only ways I have to correct what’s being done.
I’m disappointed in Mr. Brune’s decision to send the mail piece. Our campaign had thus far been open and honest and while we have both been actively campaigning for the position, our race hasn’t included mischaracterizations of one another, or mail pieces targeted at our opponent. In addition to placing a quote from me on the mail piece that Mr. Brune knows is taken out of context, he has also included a list of my qualifications compared to his. Naturally, he has chosen to leave items off of my list, including companies that I own. He’s also chosen wording designed to highlight shortcomings and underplay successes, while listing 40 years worth of boards on which he’s served and jobs he’s held. I hope that in 30 something years, when I’m Mr. Brune’s age, I’ll also have a lifetime of service on boards. He’s chosen to use his age as his distinguishing trait. Naturally, I’m optimistic that voters will decide that age is not the lone qualifier for political office. Our council has had “experienced” people on it since its beginnings. They’ve not always proven to have been our best.
In spite of these last minute tactics, I’m confident that my record stands on its own. While my resume doesn’t include 40 plus years of experience, I believe that my adult life includes plenty of relevant and impressive qualifiers. While it’s awkward to list my own accomplishments in this way, I’ll do it for the sake of the conversation. By the time I turn 34, I will have created nine companies who between them employ 200 Tulsans and generate six million dollars a year in sales. I will have produced a full length motion picture. I will have opened downtown’s first grocery store in The Brady District. I will have announced the location of our large downtown movie theater project. I will have been a part of revitalizing downtown Tulsa and The Pearl District. Furthermore, my companies and I will have donated tens of thousands of dollars to local non-profits, served on a litany of boards, and won numerous honors and awards for promoting and improving Tulsa. I’m very fortunate to have the life I have. I get to pursue my dreams every day alongside the most wonderful employees I could ever ask for and I get to work to make the city I love the greatest in the world. I’m not in my sixties, but that doesn’t mean I’m not experienced enough to serve my city as a City Councilor.
If I’m elected, you can count on me. You can count on me to debate on your behalf, while shooting straight and letting everyone know where I’m coming from. You can count on me to work hard for you and defend your interests. You can count on me to pursue effective compromise at City Hall and to do there what I do in my private life: solve problems, be creative, encourage people to achieve their potential, and expect great things from the city I love so much.
I want a City Councilor who celebrates and supports local entrepreneurs, not one who won his seat by downplaying their accomplishments. We need elected leaders who will work to inspire others to create new businesses, experiences and jobs for our citizens, not ones who take shots at them and mischaracterize their intent. We need a Councilor who will represent us, not misrepresent us.
Please vote for me on Nov 8th.