Tulsa Mayor to Leave a Legacy of Civic Engagement

As the mayor of Oklahoma’s second largest city, G.T. Bynum has focused much of his attention on engaging the community in civic affairs and improving opportunities for all residents. Mayor Bynum, who is Vice Chair of the League’s Board of Directors, will leave office in December with a long list of accomplishments in his hometown. 

As highlighted in a recent article from Bloomberg Cities Network, Mayor Bynum initiated a program to encourage neighborhood conversations on equity, in which over 80 community members have been trained to host Equity Dialogues. As one of many initiatives aimed at recognizing the harms of the massacre of “Black Wall Street” and the accompanying racism of that time, the dialogues bring together residents for informal discussions about race and equity.  

Tulsa also prioritizes assistance to its 80 neighborhoods, offering a program called Vibrant Neighborhoods Partnership to assist neighborhoods with planning and city interaction, a Neighborhood Conditions Index to track key indicators and a Neighborhood Toolkit to help strengthen neighborhood groups.  The Tulsa Planning Office, which houses these programs, was recently merged by Mayor Bynum into a Department of City Experience that includes other community services in an effort to eliminate duplication and inform planning and development decisions with neighborhood viewpoints. 

The City of Tulsa has made numerous capital investments during Mayor Bynum’s eight-year tenure, including development of a park and entertainment venue called The Gathering Place, which has been recognized by USA Today as the nation’s best central park and creation of a lake along the Arkansas River that was part of a $900 million investment that the mayor said involved more than 100 public input meetings.  

Other recent investments include a children’s museum, renovation of the city’s performing arts complex, a large network of public art pieces, a new museum that houses one of the nation’s foremost collections of American art and history, and bicycling/pedestrian infrastructure.  

Mayor Bynum, who has had three other members of his family serve as Tulsa mayor in the past 100+ years, indicated when he moved from City Council to mayor eight years ago that he would serve only two terms. Inside those eight years, which included challenges like COVID19 and unrest after the George Floyd murder, he not only launched many civic improvements, but brought community members along so that everyone reaps the benefits of an engaged city. 

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