Tulsa’s mayoral election culminated in a win by incumbent G.T. Bynum, who will serve another four years as mayor. After the Tuesday election, the results were announced with Bynum winning 52 percent of the vote. A moderate Republican, he was challenged by community activist Greg Robinson, who won 29 percent of the vote, along with six other opponents. In the midst of Black Lives Matter protests, contested mask mandates and Trump’s visit to the city for his campaign rally, the mayoral election was a particularly heated competition.
During the last few months of his first term as mayor, Bynum seemed to come under fire from both the left and right for his approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Criticized for a mask mandate and closing businesses on the right and for allowing the Trump campaign rally to take place at the BOK by the left, Bynum’s moderacy seemingly failed to meet expectations from both ends of the political spectrum.
Despite this, Bynum’s reputation preceding these events seemed to carry him through to a second term. With a $640 million tax package for community improvement that primarily boosted health and education projects in North Tulsa, Bynum ran a second campaign on a platform including unifying Tulsa. Bynum has been outspoken about emphasizing non-partisanship, even giving a TEDTalk about using data, rather than party lines, to make policy decisions.
As Bynum’s highest profile competition in the election, Robinson criticized Bynum’s inadequacy in representing Tulsa’s diverse community, citing the murder of Terence Crutcher by Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby in 2016 as a turning point in his attitude toward the city. Robinson discusses that he could “no longer justify fighting injustice across the country while his hometown struggled to rid itself of the problematic mindsets that continue to create generational trauma and distrust among Tulsans” on his campaign website. Bolstering Robinson’s drive to confront marginalization of Black citizens in Tulsa, Crutcher’s twin sister even signed on as Robinson’s senior campaign advisor.
As activism surrounding the Black Lives Matter Movement paired with Trump’s visit to the BOK creating concern about rises in COVID-19 cases in the city, Robinson was able to build an impressive campaign in only about two months. With a platform centered around economic justice and cultivating inclusivity, Robinson’s vision exposed gaps in Bynum’s tenure as mayor, particularly with regards to the Black Lives Matter movement in Tulsa as the site of the historically flourishing Black Wall Street.
As Bynum prepares for his second term starting this December, he has noted his willingness to work with Robinson and other opponents including Ken Reddick, who received 14 percent of the vote in the Tuesday election. Ensuring “I would never question [Robinson’s] heart or his dedication to Tulsa,” and promising Robinson is “exactly the kind of person I want to work with to find common ground.” Robinson echoed the continuity of his efforts, announcing “Tomorrow, our work continues.” Bynum’s second term as mayor has the potential to further bridge party gaps and amend the disparities Robinson called attention to throughout his challenging campaign.