Ronda’s Recommendations for 2016 Primary Elections


Around election time I receive many requests on either how to vote or who to vote for. Following are the candidates I support. These are my views only and are not necessarily the views of Tulsa 9.12 Project leadership or members.

Feel free to carry this into the voting booth with you, share it with your friends and family – one of the best things you can do as Election Day draws near is to remind people to get out and vote. These are typically low voter turnout elections so EVERY vote counts!

Congress CD1 – Jim Bridenstine

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Bridenstine. He is a man of his word. A man of courage, conviction and boldness, with the heart a servant. He is a true representative of the people and our Constitution. We sent Bridenstine to Washington, DC, to make a difference and to be a voice for conservative principles and values; he has done all that and more! Bridenstine has earned my support and my vote! I trust Jim Bridenstine.

Oklahoma State Senate

SD25 – Joe Newhouse

SD25 is currently held by term limited state senator Mike Mazzei. In fact, I ran for this seat 4 years ago. I am encouraging my friends and neighbors in SD25 to cast their vote for Joe Newhouse. I first got to know Newhouse when he worked in Congressman Bridenstine’s office as a Field Representative, and is currently one of the youngest men to have achieved the status of Commander in the Navy Reserve, serving as a military advisor to NATO. Newhouse will bring to the state senate the same qualities of courage, boldness and discipline Representative Bridenstine brings to his congressional office. His loyalties will lie with the Constitution and the citizens of SD25, not to special interests and lobbyists.

SD33 – Nathan Dahm

Nathan Dahm is currently running for re-election in SD33, which just so happens to be my senate district. Dahm has proven to be a man of his word through his tireless fight to protect and advance our liberties. He too is a man of courage and boldness, taking on the issues that fight to protect life and liberty. Nathan stands for what I stand for, the Second Amendment, balanced budget, lower taxes, pro-life and smaller government and he fights for these for all Oklahoma citizens in the state senate. I proudly stand with Nathan Dahm and encourage others to also.

SD37 – Dan Newberry

Dan Newberry is currently running for re-election in SD37. Over the past year I have had the opportunity to work with Newberry on issues related to budget, life, Medicaid expansion, tax credits, etc.. I believe Newberry has a heart to do what’s right for Oklahoma and though we have had more than one occasion to disagree, we put aside our differences to work together when and where we can. If you live in SD37 I would encourage you to support Dan Newberry for state senate.

SD39 – Amanda Teegarden

Amanda Teegarden is running for the open seat left vacant by term limited state senator Brian Crain. There is no candidate more qualified to serve as state senator than Amanda Teegarden.  Amanda is my friend and my mentor; she taught me and hundreds of others how to read and understand the language of a bill, how to effectively call and write our legislators and how to be a citizen activist/lobbyist. Because of her hard work and dedication as a citizen activist and executive director of a non-profit organization we were able to convince Governor Fallin to return $54 million in an Early Innovator Grant tied to the Affordable Care Act and because of Teegarden’s determination and diligence we were able to keep ObamaCare Exchanges out of Oklahoma. She believes strongly in an open and transparent government, she understands the issues and is committed to conservative solutions. Teegarden is a constitutional conservative, she will fight to protect our privacy and our property.  If elected, Teegarden will read the bills before casting a vote, will determine if we can afford to enact legislation based on needs, not wants, and will work towards the best interests of her constituents, not special interests or lobbyists. Amanda Teegarden was recognized by her peers at the first Defenders of Liberty Grassroots Activism Awards, as the recipient of the Samuel Adams Statesman of the Year Award for her leadership, research, activism and willingness to teach others.

Oklahoma State House

HD67 – Scott McEachin

Scott McEachin is running for term limited representative Pam Peterson’s open seat. Scott has been a friend for a number of years and participated on Tulsa 9.12 Project board until he announced he was running for office. I have supported McEachin since he first decided to run for office because I have witnessed firsthand his dedication and support of our founding principles in the way he lives and speaks. He will advocate for policies that restore the proper balance between Washington DC and the citizens of Oklahoma. McEachin is active in his community through involvement with his church and conservative organizations. He and his wife Debbie have a heart for our community and our state and they live that dedication through their hard work and support. Scott McEachin is a constitutional conservative.

HD70 – Ken Walker

Ken Walker is currently running for his third term in HD70. Walker works to modernize government through consolidation of dozens of Authorities, Boards, Trusts and Commissions, saving tax payers Hundreds of Thousands of dollars. He Co-Authored HB3218 which ends the current end of the year tests for high-school students and drastically reduces the number of tests for grades 3-8, and he Co-Authored HB2957 which puts the power back in the hands of the local school districts of how they evaluate their teachers. If you live in HD70, I recommend Ken Walker.

Tulsa County Sheriff – Luke Sherman

 I voted for and supported Luke Sherman during the special election earlier this year to replace Sheriff Stanley Glanz. I support Luke again as he is running for the full four year term and has the support and endorsement of most of his opponents from the special election. As a Tulsa Police Officer, Sherman has served our community with honor and integrity. He has the personality and demeanor to lead the Sheriff’s Department, restoring pride, confidence and honor to the office of Tulsa County Sheriff. As Sheriff, Sherman has stated that should the need arise, he will take a Constitutional stand against the overreach of the federal government. He will have our back. He has my vote!

 Tulsa County Clerk – Michael Willis

Tulsa County Clerk is an open seat because our current County Clerk is not running for re-election. I will be casting my vote for Michael Willis. Michael currently serves as the Chief Deputy County Commissioner and Public Information Officer at Tulsa County. Having observed Willis in a variety of settings and speaking with him on a number of issues, I believe he will do a great job as our County Clerk – he has a heart for our community and a desire to serve.

Tulsa County Court Clerk – Don Newberry

 Tulsa County Assessor, Ken Yazel said it best, “Don is the most qualified candidate for Tulsa County Court Clerk. He has worked in the Tulsa Assessor’s office for the past six years, serving Tulsa County citizens with loyalty and professionalism. Don currently manages our Title Research Department and his professionalism has been nothing but exemplary. His ingenuity and business mind combined with his management skills and education is exactly what this County needs in an elected official.” I will be casting my vote for Don Newberry for Tulsa County Court Clerk.

Tulsa County Commissioner – Toss up

I am undecided on this race and may just flip a coin to determine who to vote for. I believe either one will serve us well bringing new ideas and vision for Tulsa county. One the one hand, Turley has worked in county government and is familiar with procedure and protocol while having an understanding of the needs of Tulsa County. On the other hand I have known Grable for a number of years and have spent time listening to his thoughts and ideas and I believe he has a future in politics. His experience in having worked at the state capitol would be beneficial to the office of County Commissioner.  Full disclosure: I have donated to Grable’s campaign.

City of Tulsa Mayor – Dewey Bartlett

I stand in support of Dewey Bartlett for mayor. While we may not always agree, we respect one another’s opinions and are willing to have an open dialogue regarding ideas and differences. Bartlett assumed the financial and organizational disarray of Kathy Taylor’s time in office and has done a good job of moving Tulsa in the right direction. Democrats are lining up behind Bartlett’s opponent, GT Bynum – Kathy Taylor, Karen Keith and former Congressman John Sullivan – okay, so Sullivan is registered as a Republican but he did endorse GT Bynum and then there’s his voting record. Yes, there are other candidates in the race but the reality is, this is a two man race and I am supporting the more conservative candidate of the two. Bynum will continue to push his progressive agenda, has stated that he supports the Boren 1% sales tax, and will behave like a college kid with daddy’s checkbook, spending our tax dollars faster than they generate. We don’t need a lobbyist indebted to special interests, willing to grow the size and scope of government on the backs of our children and grandchildren. We need an adult in the office of mayor, willing to make the tough decisions while working to make Tulsa a better place to live, raise a family and eventually retire. Let’s keep a good thing going – Vote Dewey Bartlett for Mayor











Elected Officials vs Citizens: Who do YOU trust?




Trust, like character takes a lifetime to build and only an instant to destroy.  Trust is sorely missing in how citizens feel about the officials they elect to represent them and look out for their best interests.  Trust is missing because of the influence of outside factors, such as big business and the chamber of commerce that distract our elected officials from their tasks at hand.

It seems every time we turn around our elected officials have found something new they need to raise your taxes over.  Two years ago there was Vision 2 – a hair brained idea brought to the voters by the city, county and chamber of commerce, to extend the Vision 2025 sales tax until 2029.  The problem was the Vision 2025 sales tax doesn’t expire until December 2016 and they had no plan on how they would spend the money.  Your elected officials were willing to extend a tax that didn’t expire for 5 years, for an additional 12 years, with no plan on how to spend the monies collected and to top it off were eager to spend in excess of $90 million in bonding and interest. Look for the Vision 2025 sales tax extension to come back again soon. Politicians best known secret is, never allow a temporary tax to expire – in other words, there is no such thing as a temporary tax.

Last November a new tax proposal by City of Tulsa elected officials was touted by G.T. Bynum as “the first proposal in city history to lower tax rates.”  What he failed to tell you was your property taxes went up when “Improve Our Tulsa” passed and the amount your sales taxes were lowered was .067, exactly the amount the county is coming after now to expand the jail and build the juvenile justice center.  The citizens never get a break!

Now it’s almost April, just enough time for you to forget that your property taxes were raised and if this jail/juvenile center tax passes you will NEVER see the “lowering of your taxes” that G.T. Bynum promised.  It is shameful the way elected officials play games with its constituents – the very people we elect to look out for our best interests just can’t seem to keep their hands off our hard earned money or speak honestly.

I haven’t even delved into the school bond issues that keep your property taxes high.  Tulsa World reported that Oklahoma’s average state and local sales tax rate is the fifth-highest in the nation, according to a report released by the Tax FoundationMore taxes are NOT the answer.

There are needs at the jail and the juvenile justice center but raising taxes isn’t the solution to the problem.  The county can find other ways to fund these needs, like using the overage from Vision 2025.  No one is quite sure exactly how much overage there will be, which is why Tulsa citizens should demand an independent accounting of Vision 2025 funds and anticipated overage before another new sales tax is considered.  The citizens should also be allowed to vote on the repurposing of Vision 2025 funding to pay for the expansion of the jail and the building of the juvenile justice center, and if the funding falls short, after the depletion of Vision 2025 overage a small short term bond can be voted on to complete the project and will be terminated upon completion of project.  There will be minimum bonding and interest fees since those costs are already factored into Vision 2025’s bonding.

As mentioned in my previous post, the amount of the projected overage from Vision 2025 is all over the board from $6 million to $123 million, to $150 million plus.  The $6 million figure comes from County Commissioners Karen Keith and Ron Peters (elected officials) and the $150 million plus figure comes from someone who sits on the Tulsa County Vision 2025 Oversight Committee (a private citizen).  Which figure do you believe?  Or better yet, who do you trust?

On December 23, 2013, Commissioner Keith signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” between Macy’s Corporate Service, Inc. and the Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners “agreeing to seek any remaining required funds from the Tulsa County Vision Authority” (Vision 2025) to help pay for road construction for Macy’s new building.

It appears that the county is willing to spend taxpayers hard earned money on building a road that benefits BIG business, not to mention all the other tax breaks Macy’s is receiving from moving here that the ordinary citizen or small business doesn’t receive but they have no problem continuously asking the tax payers for more of their hard earned money.  Macy’s was never a part of the Vision 2025 projects and funds should not be used from Vision 2025 to pay for an access road.

How can citizens trust the people they elect when the answer to every need is to raise taxes?  How can citizens trust their elected officials when the officials are eager to waste hard earned tax dollars on millions of dollars in bonding fees and interest instead of using the pay-as-you-go system resulting in more tax dollars going to actual projects?  How can citizens trust when year after year they hear, “this is a temporary tax” and yet it never goes away?  I trust the citizens to vote NO on both propositions April 1st .  I trust the citizens to hold our elected officials accountable by demanding they terminate bonding and use a “pay-as-you-go” method of paying for existing and future projects.  I trust that if given a choice, the citizens would choose to use Vision 2025 overage funds to pay for the needs of the jail and juvenile justice center.  I trust the citizens will send a message to our county commissioners that “Tulsa CAN DO BETTER” and raising our taxes isn’t the end all-fix all to the problems in Tulsa county.

Posted by Ronda Vuillemont-Smith on Just Ronda

Don’t ‘FOOL’ Me Bro: New taxes aren’t the ONLY way!


Dont fool me Bro

Another tax?  NO WAY!  When will the madness end?  Every time there is a perceived need (aka want), the city or county (this time) comes after the hard working taxpayer for more of their hard earned money instead of finding other ways to pay for the problem.  It’s time to get government out of our pockets!

While most people would agree that there are needs with the juvenile justice center and the jail that need to be met, it’s the manner in which those needs are met that we have the most disagreement.

For some unknown reason, Tulsa loves to ‘bond’ the money they spend which results in millions of tax dollars being wasted on bonding fees and interest.  The better way to accomplish building projects is by using a ‘pay-as-you-go’ plan, with no bonding fees and no interest, which means we get something to show for our hard earned tax dollars.  The county commissioners will tell you that we can’t ‘pay as you go’ because they need the money NOW!  This method will result in millions of taxpayer dollars going toward bonding fees and interest, giving the taxpayers a GREAT BIG NOTHING for their money!

If we were to think outside the box we could come up with other ways to pay for the jail expansion and the new juvenile justice center.  What about the overage from the Vision 2025 funds?  Since the projects from Vision 2025 have been completed, the tax dollars we are collecting is more than sufficient to meet the bonds with an estimated $11 million surplus each year.  We will continue collecting taxes through December 2016 and with what we currently have in the bank ($90 million), three years of approximately $11 million each year in overages (after paying bond obligations), we would have in excess of $123 million remaining.  Please note:  these are the low end figures of what is anticipated to be Vision 2025 overage, some believe it could go as high as $150 million plus.  There was a promise made to the outlying communities that they would be given $45 million (total) upon completion of collection of Vision 2025 sales tax, so that obligation needs to be honored.

Let’s recap, the low budget estimate is that we will have somewhere in the neighborhood of $123 million in Vision 2025 sales tax overage (note: revenues are coming in higher than projected), we pay the outlying communities their $45 million, it will leave approximately $78 million for us to expand the jail and build the juvenile justice center.  Your taxes don’t rise and our community is safer!

Of course when you ask the county commissioners about using the Vision 2025 overage to pay for the jail/justice center we are told we can’t use those funds because the funds are delegated to specific types of projects as voted on when Vision 2025 sales tax passed, September 2003.  The truth is, they can allow the citizens to make the decision on how they want their tax dollars spent by allowing them to vote to authorize the use of Vision 2025 funding to expand the jail and build the juvenile justice center.

When asked about the overage from Vision 2025, you get a different answer each time.  Last I heard from Commissioner Keith was that estimates were that there would only be about $6 million in collection overage.  A Vision 2025 oversight board member estimates that the overage could be $150 million plus and other county officials give a modest estimate of $123 million.  These numbers are all over the place and I believe the citizens should refuse a proposal of any new taxes until Vision 2025 funds have been satisfactorily accounted for.

So, what do we do?  First we have to vote down the tax increase the county is seeking on April 1, forcingvote_no1 the county commissioners to go back to the drawing board and come up with a BETTER plan!  We demand an accounting of all Vision 2025 sales tax collections and anticipated future collections.  We bring the idea of using the overage from Vision 2025 to pay for the jail expansion and juvenile justice center to a vote of the people, allowing them a voice in how their tax dollars are spent.  There will be much moaning and gnashing of teeth from city and county officials, the chamber of commerce and others that stand to benefit from the “NEW TAX” April 1 tax passing – you see, they believe they know how to spend your money better than you do and they have plans for that money.

Before you vote on April 1, ask yourself – is raising my taxes the BEST way to solve the needs of our community?  Can this be done in a manner that doesn’t cost the tax payers additional money?  I believe it can!  Vote NO on April 1 – let’s send them back to the drawing board because Tulsa County CAN Do BETTER!

Posted by Ronda Vuillemont-Smith on Just Ronda