Cornett shares his plans if elected governor
Team Radio Marketing Group - September 20, 2017 4:30 pm
By Beverly Bryant
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett spoke at Pioneer Technology Center Monday night about his intention to run for Governor of Oklahoma.
Cornett, the only Oklahoma City mayor to be elected four times, completes his final term in 2018.
He was introduced by Ponca City Mayor Homer Nicholson, who joked that Cornett’s resume is longer than his speech. Cornett, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, had a 20-year career as a sports caster at KOCO-5 in Oklahoma City before entering the political arena first as a city councilman and then mayor.
Among his accomplishments: He helped bring the Thunder basketball team to Oklahoma City; was instrumental in the passage of the MAPS 3 program and MAPS for Kids; was the 2013 Mayor of the Year in Oklahoma and is a member of the Oklahoma Municipal Hall of Fame.
He was appointed by President Trump to task forces working on infrastructure and criminal justice.
Cornett said he is a fifth generation Oklahoman, but the first generation not to be a wheat farmer. He said he learned important lessons about hard work from the previous generation, but his parents rose to the middle class and he was raised in the suburbs of Oklahoma City.
Because of his television work in Oklahoma City, Cornett said he is well known in the portion of Oklahoma covered by KOCO-5, but he can definitely tell where that market ends. When he met his wife Terri, who lived in Tulsa, she didn’t realize he was the mayor of Oklahoma City.
“If I ever needed to put back in my place, it happened very quickly,” he said.
Cornett said being mayor is not a partisan position, and he has learned to be a consensus builder.
“The 2017 Legislative session was so self-destructive,” he said. “People started trying to recruit me to run for mayor. My strengths are leadership and consensus building.”
He said Oklahoma needs to concentrate on the economic impacts of education and health.
“We need to establish a trajectory. Too many people in Oklahoma are unhealthy and uneducated. Good times don’t last forever and not sustainable on their own. Good health and an educated workforce have positive impacts on the economy.”
In Oklahoma City, Cornett has worked to diversify the economy. Currently, only 3 percent of Oklahoma City’s economy is based on oil and gas.
During his time in the mayor’s office, Cornett was instrumental in diversification of industry, bringing Boeing workers to Oklahoma City, the company’s new headquarters.
“When Boeing announced they were moving jobs to Oklahoma City, they flew me out to California with the job of convincing workers to move to Oklahoma City. We had a high success rate — 60 percent — when they expected about 30 percent of employees to transfer. Boeing sent me to Seattle we moved those jobs to Oklahoma City, then I went to Wichita. The employees there were either coming or not coming.
“What appealed to people in California was that Oklahoma City had no traffic jams but did have affordable housing, fresh water and clean air. I run into people now who were in one of those migrations,” he said.
The biomedical field also is expanding in Oklahoma City, he said.
“All of our universities have the capability of increasing research,” he said.
“If you are a job creator or entrepreneur, you want to know what health care costs are going to be and if your workforce has a problem with absenteeism,” he said. “It is to our advantage to drive health and education, as well as a good work ethic.”
Cornett said it is imperative that the Legislature find a sustainable source of income to stop the annual cuts of state agencies across the board.
He is interested in looking at the state Constitution as well as restructuring agencies that don’t work today, to provide the accountability that is needed today.
“We need to build on what we are doing well,” he said. “Career Tech is one. Early childhood education — we are a leader. I am a big advocate of early childhood education because I’m a graduate of it. When I was born my mother stopped teaching. I realized the sacrifice my parents made. How lucky was I? My parents believed in it and felt they had a duty to provide it for me.”
He said Oklahoma City and Tulsa are the two worst performing school systems in Oklahoma.
“The City of Oklahoma City rebuilt every school in the inner city with the MAPS for Kids project,” he said. “We spent $700 million to rebuild those schools. The school district has passed all of its bond issues since then to sustain that progress.”
He said the state agency most ripe for redrawing is the Department of Corrections.
He said there is bipartisan support to restructure the agency because recidivism is high.
“We can’t have it both ways, locking up everyone who breaks the law,” he said. “When someone goes into prison, who pays for health care? We do, and there’s no co-pay.”
His goal is to get more people into the workforce.
“One, it would make a big difference, and two, it’s politically viable,” he said.
Cornett said continuing education should be a lifelong endeavor now. He said the rapid increase in technology demands it.