Mayor Mick Cornett says his convincing victory in Tuesday’s election validates the path Oklahoma City chose with passage of the first MAPS program 20 years ago.
In an interview Wednesday, Cornett said residents recognize the steady improvements brought about by voter-approved Metropolitan Area Projects investments.
“They like the direction the city is headed and they want to see more of it,” said Cornett, who with his victory became the first Oklahoma City mayor to win four terms in office.
Cornett won a broad victory over Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, capturing 182 of 235 precincts across the city.
Cornett swept suburban precincts in Cleveland and Canadian counties, failing to win just one where nobody voted.
Shadid won 35 precincts.
Cornett and Shadid tied in four precincts, including a 128-128 tie in Precinct 193, which flanks NW 23 Street near Shepherd Mall. No votes were recorded for either candidate in 14 precincts.
Cornett drew 31,495 votes, or 65.7 percent, to 15,739, or 32.8 percent for Shadid. Phil Hughes and Joe B. Sarge Nelson split the other 1.5 percent.
Turnout was about 17 percent, up significantly from Cornett’s last re-election bid in 2010. Cornett more than doubled his vote totals, while Shadid drew 50 percent more than Cornett’s challenger, Steve Hunt, had in 2010. Through Feb. 17, the latest reporting deadline, Cornett and Shadid had together raised more than $1 million for their campaigns.
“It was a contested race and probably the most money ever spent from a campaign perspective, and so I think all of those factors played into it,” Cornett said.
“I think it shows that people are interested,” he said. “People care about the future of the city and this was an opportunity for them to express whether they like the direction the city’s headed or whether they want to change course.”
‘How we got here’
Cornett said he focused his campaign on reviewing “how we got here,” from the economic doldrums of the 1980s, through passage of MAPS and “the emotional strains” of the 1995 Murrah Building bombing. Then, he tried to communicate the importance of the economy and how a good economy provides for investments in city services, he said.
“I think there’s a disconnect between, ‘Yeah the economy is supposedly really, really good’ and ‘But what does that do for me, how does that affect me and my family in my neighborhood?’” Cornett said.
He said the economy is enabling the city to add to the police force, build new fire stations, and “put more money in streets than we ever have before.”
“I decided in this campaign that was one of the things we needed to make sure people understood,” Cornett said.
“A lot of the things that we all want to happen are not going to happen unless the economy’s good,” he said. “And the fact that the economy is good is something we should all take pride in and try to keep that going as long as we can, ’cause it allows us to take care of a lot of the needs of the city.”
Looking ahead, Cornett said the city must keep its sights squarely on providing the basic services residents expect: police and fire protection, clean drinking water, trash and recycling pickup.
Beyond that, he said, the city has “a large menu of MAPS 3 projects to continue to work on,” including breaking ground on the Oklahoma River whitewater course and State Fair Park’s expo center this year.
And more immediately: “I was out driving the streets today,” Cornett said, “and there’s no question that the ice storms we’ve had recently have taken a toll on our streets. And we have a significant pothole problem coming up in the near future.”