Occupation: Director of Community and Family Organizing, Met Cares Foundation
Why are you running for mayor?
My choice to run for mayor is rooted in who I am, what I’ve learned and lost, a righteous anger and an enduring hope in the potential and promise of Tulsa. I’m running to ensure every Tulsan regardless of their race, religion, orientation, identity, economic status and zip code has a pathway to upward mobility. I’m running so that every child in our city knows that they have the power to achieve their most audacious of dreams – and they can do it right here. I’m running because, on the cusp of 2021, Tulsa must meet this moment and show the world what true reconciliation looks like. I’m running because I believe that, together, we can build a better city for all of us.
What is the most serious challenge facing the city and how would you seek to address it if you are elected?
As Tulsa grapples with a rapid spike in COVID-19, we have to acknowledge that this pandemic is not only a health crisis, but an economic crisis, an educational crisis and a social crisis. This moment has laid bare deep and long-standing inequities across our city. As mayor, I will fight to ensure that we take every necessary step to protect our community from the spread of the virus. We will work alongside our healthcare leaders as well as local and state officials to implement proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus. I will also actively address the disparities that have caused so many Tulsa families to experience health and economic distress in this time so that we emerge from this crisis stronger, making certain we are no longer leaving our neighbors behind.
What will be your top priorities?
As mayor, my top priorities in serving all Tulsans will be to ensure that our city is one rooted in freedom, justice, equity and safety. The city will pursue a set of policies that will focus on achieving:
1. Inclusive Economic Development
2. Equity in Housing and Public Education
3. Investment in Mental & Public Health
4. Safety of Tulsans Over Politics
All Tulsans should feel welcomed as their full and authentic selves and should have the power and resources to build the life they dream of here.
If elected, together, we will work every day to ensure that every Tulsan has access to a good job, a good home, good schools and effective transportation no matter where they live. Together, we will work to build a Tulsa where, in the midst of this current crisis, no one has to choose between paying their bills and caring for their health. Together, we will work to keep all Tulsans safe through comprehensive and common sense justice reforms. Together, we will implement a comprehensive climate and sustainability plan to protect our air and water while bringing cutting-edge jobs to our city. Tulsa has always been a city grounded in a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, and together we can implement the bold reforms we need to build an equitable and thriving city.
What personal qualities and work experiences do you have that you believe qualify you to be mayor?
I grew up in north Tulsa, on the periphery of Greenwood, and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. Tulsa is in my bones. After attending college in Arkansas, I have spent my entire career working to bring people together for a common cause: making this world a better place. In the past eight years, I have led hundreds of employees across multiple local, state and national political campaigns. After years of working around the country, I returned to Tulsa because I believe deeply in the city we can be if we work together. In 2017, I helped to start an elementary school in north Tulsa, the first partnership school in the state, because I believed that we must invest deeply in all of our kids. In 2018, I helped to build out and lead the community organizing branch of the Met Cares Foundation and in the two years since we have brought thousands of community members together to create meaningful policy changes to address disparities in our city. I am a consensus builder, a dreamer, a servant leader, a believer in our community and a fierce advocate for the city we all love.
If you are elected mayor, would you work to pursue a police oversight program similar to what has been proposed by Mayor G.T. Bynum?
I have proudly stood alongside fellow Tulsans for years, calling for strong community-lead oversight and comprehensive, common sense policing reform. I would do the same as mayor. If elected, I will honor and uplift the voices of our community members and give them a seat at the decision-making table alongside city leaders and law enforcement. I will push for changes in our city’s funding to ensure that our fellow Tulsans struggling with poverty, homelessness, addiction or mental illness are supported rather than criminalized. In doing so, we also ensure that our officers are safe and effectively supported in their work. Tulsans deserve effective policies over empty promises or divisive rhetoric. I refuse to believe that a city as bold as Tulsa cannot find innovative solutions that honor the best in our public servants while truly re-imagining what it means to invest in public safety.
Would you support continued work to address the disparities in outcomes outlined in the city’s Equality Indicators reports?
Without a doubt. I served on the advisory board for Resilient Tulsa and assisted in the creation of the Equality Indicators. In my current capacity at MET Cares Foundation I used EI as a framework to bring equity to families who have been left behind for too long. EI is an excellent framework, but we fall short on our promise as a city if we only create studies, reports and task forces. We must go beyond the pages of the report and intentionally use the data it provides to create meaningful policy change so that the quality of services, housing, or health care Tulsans receive are not based on their race, veteran status, gender identity, age, or immigration status. I am honored that DeVon Douglass, who led the initial implementation of the plan for our city, has joined our campaign. Creating an equitable Tulsa will be the top priority for me as mayor
Why should Tulsans vote for you as opposed to any of the other candidates?
Tulsa is my home. I believe so deeply in this city and know, as we approach the centennial of the 1921 massacre, we can draw on every bit of tenacity and boldness we have to build the city we dream of. We have been made to believe that there are limits to what Tulsa can be or achieve, but we don’t have to accept those limits anymore. We don’t have to be the underdog. We don’t have to be the city that strives to compete – we can be the city that others strive to compete with. I am the best candidate to lead our city in this direction as we enter 2021, because I know, honor and respect that power that exists within each and every Tulsan. I promise I will always listen with intention and lead with compassion because Tulsans deserve nothing less.
Please add anything else you would like the public to know about why you are running for mayor.
When I grew up in north Tulsa, in the shadow of Greenwood and Black Wall Street, I was always surrounded by people who believed in me and built me up. I was always made to believe that I could truly be anything I wanted to be. As I look back now and remember some of the kids who grew up near me, who went to school near me, who looked like me, I know that they didn’t always get poured into like I did. It wasn’t because they didn’t have people who cared for them, but it was because the city they loved didn’t always love them back. Every child in this city should wake up every day knowing that the place they call home believes in them, invests in them and will do everything it takes to see them succeed. I’m not a politician, I’m simply a kid from Tulsa who grew up watching his dad fight every day of his life for those who needed it most, who watches his mom pour into everyone around her even as she struggles with her own illness, and who sees the brightest and most brilliant potential in the eyes of the students I serve at Greenwood Leadership Academy. I’m a Tulsan who chose to run for mayor because I believe we all have the power to build something better; to build the innovative and equitable city we deserve.