TAMPA, Fla. — Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett plugged his hometown to the Republican National Convention on Tuesday and said it has thrived in the last two decades because of debt-free investments made locally.
Speaking on the first full day of convention business, the mayor also boasted that the city hosted the wedding of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and his wife, Oklahoma native Janna Little Ryan.
“It's becoming more and more unusual for our best and brightest to leave the state, but in this case, we're glad it's worked out the way it has,” Cornett said.
Referring to the series of sales tax initiatives passed in the city to fund a range of improvements, Cornett said the city decided to invest in itself.
“We built quality-of-life amenities that have transformed our city into a dynamic home for smart young people and enterprising businesses,” he said.
“Oklahoma City was recently named as the most entrepreneurial city in the country, with the most startups per capita.
“Interestingly, we have not done this by creating large amounts of debt. We did something unique for many of our infrastructure packages: We paid cash.”
Cornett, 54, has been mayor of the state's capital since 2004. He was speaking here Tuesday on behalf of Republican mayors.
When he got to the podium, he asked for the whereabouts of the Oklahoma convention delegates and got a smattering of applause from the few present at the back of the hall, where they have been seated. By happy coincidence, it was Oklahoma City Thunder shirt day for the state delegates.
In 2010, because of his efforts to fight obesity, Cornett was the guest of first lady Michelle Obama for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
Cornett didn't bash the president Tuesday, and he acknowledged the need for financial help from Washington for infrastructure needs. But he said his city's renaissance was fueled by “sound, fiscally conservative leadership and a belief that local investment in infrastructure is vital to economic development.”
The city now has the lowest unemployment rate of major metropolitan areas, he said, and is “building a community that is more walkable, more sustainable, more affordable and more business-friendly, and we are building it with the kind of common-sense economic policies that we need in Washington, policies that Mitt Romney will deliver as the next president of the United States.”