Race for Governor: Mick Cornett
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
On June 26th, Oklahomans will have a chance to go to the polls to pick who they want to represent their party in the gubernatorial election. FOX 25 is profiling the major candidates in all three parties that will appear on the ballot.
For 14 years Mick Cornett led the City of Oklahoma City. While the mayor may just be one vote on the City Council, it is a position that allowed Cornett to set the vision for the city and helped guide the momentum and grown that changed Oklahoma City from a dot on the map to a “Big League” city.
“People are looking for leadership and i think at Oklahoma City they have seen things they've liked,” Cornett told FOX 25.
Cornett has been a fixture and often the face of Oklahoma City's renaissance. He may not have started it, but there can be little debate that he saw it through and guided the development that included recruiting the National Basketball Association and landing Oklahoma City on many national lists of best places to live and work.
“We've grown the economy nearly 100,000 new jobs, nearly 10,000 new businesses,” Cornett said of the city’s growth during his time in office. “I've chaired the audit committee; we've audited nearly every department every year. We've seen ups and downs of a budgetary process but you don't see the calamity that we've seen at the state level.”
Cornett's critics argue the growth was achieved through tax increases, such as the various MAPS sales taxes. Cornett argues it was not the city imposing the taxes, it was the citizens buying into the vision of a better Oklahoma City.
“First of all, we've done what we said we were going to do and we've allowed citizens to vote again on that same taxation capacity generally without any sort of change in the taxation system,” Cornett explained. “The fact that they've voted for it again and again and again is a testament to the fact that we've done what we said we were going to do.”
As governor, Cornett wants to be more than just the policy chief, but also the state's biggest supporter. It is a position he believes Oklahoma needs as the state tries to turn around the, often, negative image that is portrayed to the rest of the nation and world.
He believes to change those stereotypes he must change the way Oklahoma sees itself.
“I really look forward to the opportunity to raising the standards and raising the education as part of the culture of Oklahoma,” Cornett said. “I think we've got work to do in that area and I think I am specifically placed in a position with the tool set to help make that happen.”
Cornett also said he is uniquely positioned among all the candidates in any party to bring to the rest of Oklahoma something that has helped Oklahoma City weather the toughest economic storms.
“We've had a certain meteoric rise, the Thunder's been a part of that,” Cornett said. However he attributes much of the success to job creation and diversification of the city’s economy that the rest of the state has not seen. “Oklahoma City was recently named the seventh most diversified economy in the country,” Cornett said.
The biggest struggle Cornett faces is recognition outside central Oklahoma, where before he was the face of Oklahoma City he was a television sports personality. He also is working to bridge the ever-present Oklahoma rural versus urban political divide.
Cornett said his work with national organizations such as the National Governor’s Association have helped him understand the needs of cities and towns of all sizes. In fact, Cornett argued as lead of the Governor’s Association he has essentially been working for small towns in addition to serving as leader of the largest on.
Cornett said one thing he has found is the need to restore the relationship between the state and local governments.
“A lot of people in rural Oklahoma think they've lost control of their own destiny and I think I can help them,” Cornett said.