James Tunnell, Staff Writer
On March 4th, 2014, Oklahoma City residents got out and hit the polls to decide who their Mayor would be for the next 4 years. The results were convincing: a victory for incumbent Mick Cornett, who gained close to 63% of the overall votes. Cornett also established a state record for being elected Mayor four straight terms in a row.
The next closest vote-getter was Ed Shadid, who managed to scrape up 32.8% of voters support. Although this is not a surprising outcome, it does speak volumes for the direction that Mayor Cornett has taken Oklahoma City since his first term began in 2004. But what exactly does Mayor Cornett’s re-election mean for the city?
For starters, Mayor Cornett has been one of the main proponents of the MAPS 3 project, and with his re-election, all cylinders will be firing to complete this city-wide endeavor, originally started in 2010. MAPS 3 is funded by a one-cent tax, which will generate an estimated $777 million over the course of its implementation, which is scheduled to end in December, 2017.
One of the most exciting projects within MAPS 3 is a proposed downtown park, part of what is known as the Core to Shore initiative. The proposed area for the park is a stretch of land by I-40, 40 acres of which would be north of the highway, and the other 30 pushing up against the river. The park is scheduled for completion in 2021 and will include features such as gardens, fountains, a large lawn for performing arts and a lake.
Other projects in the MAPS 3 project include citywide renovations, improvements to the river to support its further evolution as the premier rowing site in Oklahoma, nearly $60 million in renovations to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, improved trails for biking and running, improved sidewalks and the construction of Senior Health and Wellness Centers. Each of these proposed improvements will be implemented in what is estimated to be a ten year window, ending with the completion of the Downtown Park in 2021.
While MAPS 3 has certainly been a credit to Mayor Cornett’s commitment to real improvement within the city, the hallmarks of his mayoral terms have been his commitment to education and creating and sustaining jobs within the state. Under his direction, Oklahoma has consistently had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. There have also been neither raises in state income tax or property tax. With his support of Maps for Kids, the goal of renovating every school district in the state is steadily making progress, all the while providing federal funding for 23 school districts outside of Oklahoma City.
It is easy to see why Oklahoma City residents voted to keep Mayor Mick Cornett around for another 4 years. Under Mayor Cornett’s leadership, Oklahoma City has seen arguably its most prosperous era, and the city shows no sign of slowing down. When you couple the economic success of OKC with the achievements of the Thunder, the city’s brightest days seem to be ahead. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.