Engineer, avid car enthusiast and now Sapulpa City Councilor, Bruce Bledsoe is eager to revitalize Sapulpa’s shopping centers and get citizens involved in city government.
Bledsoe, 59, won Ward 5 in the April 3 election, unseating 5-term incumbent Alan Jones by 13 votes. Jones had held the seat for 20 years.
Ward 5 spans most of the residential and rural areas northeast of town, and following I-44 and Route 66 North of Sapulpa toward Tulsa. Commercially Ward 5 also includes the Town West Shopping Center and Inverness Village.
Bledsoe and his wife Sharon, a professional chemist, have lived in Sapulpa for 20 years after escaping from a neighborhood in Tulsa that literally went up in flames around them. Their 22-year-old son Bryce is currently serving in the Army, stationed in Kentucky.
Bledsoe attended Oklahoma Wesleyan University for both his undergraduate and masters degrees. He currently works as a field engineer for Underwriters Laboratories and occasionally teaches small business courses for non-traditional students as an adjunct professor at Wesleyan.
There is nothing in his background that ever hinted at political ambitions. Rather, it was a sense of citizenship that drove Bledsoe to get involved in city government.
Concerns about fire safety in his out-of-the-way neighborhood spurred Bledsoe to attend city council meetings and ask questions. He learned that plans to build a fire station northeast of town were thwarted by budget cuts while the city was simultaneously devoting money to a golf course.
“If you’re going to complain you might as well try to have an answer,” Bledsoe thought to himself as he sat in city council meetings. “Why not try to be part of the solution rather than sit there and cry about it?”
“If you’re going to complain you might as well try to have an answer. Why not try to be part of the solution rather than sit there and cry about it?”
When he announced his plan to his wife, Bledsoe says she was shocked. “She thought I was crazy,” Bledsoe said. “We’ve known each other for a long time, and we never would have thought either of us would run for office.”
Bledsoe plans to put his expertise to work stimulating Sapulpa’s commercial economy, with highly trafficked retail spaces comparable to Glenpool and Broken Arrow.
“Sapulpa needs to get more retail,” Bledsoe said, “because the majority of the financing for the fun stuff that people want,”—citing parks and recreation and good streets—”comes from sales taxes.” Sales tax makes up the majority of Sapulpa’s yearly revenue according to the city budget.
Bledsoe has a particular know-how for marketing and finance, which he’ll employ to market Sapulpa as a developing city perfect for growing one’s business.
And he’s eager to get started.
“I was asking Reg [Mayor Green], can we sit down some time so I can see the master plan? Where are we at? What’s our dream? What’s our hope? What do we want to be in 10 years?,” Bledsoe said. “You have to think long term.”
“Where are we at? What’s our dream? What’s our hope? What do we want to be in 10 years? You have to think long term.”
Bledsoe is also thinking long term about his personal plans, saying that if he wins the next election he will step down after two terms, opening the spot up for new faces and fresh ideas.
His self-imposition of term limits speaks to his second ideal for city government — representing the desires of the citizens.
Speaking on the size and responsibility of the city budget Bledsoe said, “It’s not my money. It’s the citizens’ money, and so I ask ‘how would they want it spent?'”
In the April 3 election, less than 300 Sapulpans voted for city council. Bledsoe hopes that by reaching out to citizens regularly, he can get the people of Sapulpa more politicaly engaged.
“I want to hear what people want,” Bledsoe said. “I want to take what they want and make it happen.”