Tulsa city councilors met Wednesday with what’s become a rare controversial nominee for a city authority, board or commission.
Mayor G.T. Bynum picked construction executive Bob Jack for a seat on the Infrastructure Development Advisory Board. Jack is chair of the Tulsa County Republican Party.
Despite a recommendation from the Tulsa Health Department people not gather in groups of more than 10, the group held a large, indoor election night watch party in November where masks were a "personal choice." The group then held a "Stop the Steal" rally it later renamed a "Protect the Vote" rally as it became clear President Joe Biden won the 2020 election.
Jack told councilors Wednesday he sees the infrastructure board seat as a way to help his city and will not bring politics into it.
"By the way, just to make sure everyone understands that my position with the party ends at the end of February. So, I’m no longer a leader of the party as of Feb. 27," Jack said.
Jack’s activities with the Tulsa County GOP aren’t the only issue. Last summer, he led a push against a Black Lives Matter mural on Greenwood Avenue, writing a letter to city officials asking how a Blue Lives Matter or Baby Lives Matter could be painted on a city street. He also referred to Black Lives Matter as a "radical, left-wing, Marxist organization" and said there needs to be solutions to "what goes on in north Tulsa."
Councilor Phil Lakin asked Wednesday whether that should matter for a board that deals with commercial development.
"I’m just trying to project what may be discussed and how politics or even personal viewpoints can come into play very often," Lakin said.
Councilor Kara Joy McKee said there’s a case to be made that Jack’s point of view should matter.
"We’ve seen in many reports how unconscious bias can cause things to get skewed, things we don’t expect, things, potentially, with infrastructure development," McKee said.
McKee said she's also troubled by Jack speaking out against the city’s mask requirement and recommendations by THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart.
"I don’t want to punish you for that. I just don’t want to give you more power because of that," McKee said.
McKee and Council Chair Vanessa Hall-Harper told the Tulsa World last week they had concerns about Jack's nomination.
Jack’s nomination to the infrastructure board has been delayed about a month now. He was asked Wednesday why he still wants to go through the process.
"Being in the construction business for 50 years, I’ve never, ever, ever not completed a project. Once I’ve committed to start something, I always see it through to the end," Jack said.
Councilor Jeannie Cue suggested the city council can give Jack a chance and vote to remove him later if there are issues. The council is expected to vote on his nomination Feb. 24.