Mick Cornett began his campaign for a fourth term as mayor Monday on the block where he grew up, working up a sweat as he sought out voters in near 100-degree heat.
The mayoral primary is March 4 and the general election is April 1.
“In so many ways, we're just getting started,” Cornett, 55, said, taking a break from door-knocking in the 3900 block of NW 58 Terrace. “We have come a long way, but we've got a lot more to do.”
Kent Hall, a lifelong city resident who's lived four doors down from the Cornetts' house for the past 23 years, said he worries a bit about cars speeding down the street and break-ins, but gave the mayor a vote of confidence.
“I thing we're going in the right direction,” said Hall, 71.
Cornett made his announcement with a Facebook post and a two-minute video, filmed in part at his elementary school, Coronado Heights, one block over from his family's home.
In the video, Cornett said he was “proud of what we have accomplished” and looked ahead to four years of further investment in strengthening neighborhoods, creating high-quality jobs and improving streets — an area where residents give the city its lowest marks.
“We can continue to invest in our public safety and we can continue to foster the quality of life that has made us so proud,” he said. “Let's keep building this city — together.”
If he is re-elected and serves a full four years — a promise he said Monday that he would keep — Cornett would become Oklahoma City's longest serving mayor.
Cornett has seen the city through about half of the two-decade “renaissance” for which it is nationally known. Oklahoma City weathered the national recession, growing the economy and posting unemployment rates well below the national average.
Oklahoma City became a “big-league” town with the arrival of the NBA's Thunder.
Cornett shepherded through MAPS 3, the voter-approved sales tax to finance projects ranging from a downtown convention center to senior health and wellness centers and new sidewalks.
Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said Cornett led the campaign to bring the Thunder to town and “was the face of the MAPS 3 campaign.”
“If you look at the popularity of Mayor Cornett, it's very high,” Williams said. “The fact that he is interested and wants to stay in that role, I think that bodes well for Oklahoma City.”
Cornett's announcement sets up a potential contest with first-term City Councilman Ed Shadid.
Shadid, who represents Ward 2 in inner northwest Oklahoma City, announced his plans to run earlier this summer and has opened a campaign office downtown.
He plans a rally Aug. 15 at the Farmers Public Market, where a transit forum he sponsored drew about 500 people in February.
Shadid has raised persistent questions about the viability of projects such as the downtown streetcar and the convention center included in MAPS 3.
Shadid said Monday that the election would be a “referendum on how we make decisions.”
He said the next mayor needs to be more fiscally responsible and more inclusive, put neighborhood interests over special interests and “govern with a higher ethical standard.”
“We've come to a fork in the road,” Shadid said.
Shadid, a spinal surgeon, earlier this year circulated a memo to potential campaign advisers in which he said he expected to spend $750,000 to $1.5 million on the race.
Cornett, a former television news reporter and anchor, was in his first term on the city council when he was elected mayor in 2004. He was re-elected in 2006 and in 2010.
Two other potential candidates, Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan and oil and gas executive Jeff Cloud, previously said they would not run if Cornett sought re-election.
Cornett said he thought the election would center on where the city is headed.
“In other words, do you think the city is headed in the right direction or not? And if you think the city's heading in the right direction, I think we stand a good chance of winning.”
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