“That personal touch was meaningful,” Benton said.
A record of leadership
Colleagues on the council give Cornett credit for keeping lines of communication open. He has overseen the second decade of Metropolitan Area Projects — the MAPS capital improvements plan.
Cornett also led the 2009 campaign for MAPS 3, which set the stage for a third decade of taxpayer investment in the city.
He gets credit for persuading the NBA to give Oklahoma City the chance to prove it could be a big-league city. He gained national recognition for taking on obesity. While losing weight himself, he brought along thousands of other residents who collectively shed 1 million pounds.
He’s been a champion for MAPS 3 projects, including the trails, sidewalks and senior health and wellness centers that are to serve seniors throughout the city.
Raised in the Coronado Heights neighborhood in northwest Oklahoma City, Cornett graduated from Putnam City High School before earning a journalism degree at the University of Oklahoma. While mayor, he earned an MBA from New York University.
As a sportscaster in the 1980s, he was instrumental in creating the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, which is honoring him as an inductee this year. Later, he shifted to news.
In 2001, Cornett won a seat from Ward 1 on the city council. Three years later he was elected mayor, succeeding Kirk Humphreys, who resigned to run for the U.S. Senate.
Cornett was re-elected in 2006, winning nearly nine of every 10 votes, then later that year ran for Congress, losing the GOP runoff election to now-Gov. Mary Fallin. He won re-election in 2010 with 58 percent of the vote.
Million dollar election
In campaign finance reports filed before the election, Cornett reported out-raising Shadid almost 2-to-1, as their combined fund-raising topped $1 million.
Ad spending reflected the disparity: Cornett was set to outspend Shadid 4-to-1 on local television. Shadid made a point of not taking money from political action committees, the same stance he took in his 2011 race for the Ward 2 council seat.
Shadid officially opened his campaign with a rally that drew about 600 people to the Farmers Public Market on Aug. 15. During the campaign, he organized town hall meetings on public safety and the MAPS 3 convention center.
Shadid established his themes early, saying in June — when he announced his candidacy with an Internet video — that he planned a campaign “emphasizing honesty, transparency, unprecedented public participation and neighborhood interests over special interests.”
Shadid won the support of police and fire unions. A physician and recovering addict, he said poverty, disease, addiction, and crime take an inordinate toll on the city.
Shadid is leading an initiative drive to call a vote on whether to drop the $252 million convention center from the list of MAPS 3 projects and end the 1-cent MAPS 3 sales tax early. A vote could occur, perhaps this time next year, if supporters gather about 6,000 valid signatures.
“You can win even in loss,” Shadid said. “You can lose the battle and win the war. That's what's happening. There is a movement growing in Oklahoma City. There is dialogue, deliberation and debate ... into how we transition into being a big-league city. There are alternate views that need to be heard.”
Shadid has another year to go in his first term on the council and is expected to continue serving Ward 2.
CONTRIBUTING: GRAHAM BREWER AND KYLE FREDRICKSON, STAFF WRITERS