For the most part, we're assuming that Mick Cornett will be elected to an unprecedented fourth term as Mayor of Oklahoma City recent surveys show him with about a two-to-one lead over challenger Dr Ed Shadid. (There are two other guys in the race, neither of whom is accorded a chance, even as a spoiler.) That word "unprecedented" bothers me a bit: no previous Mayor has served more than twelve years, and I wonder if maybe this isn't a tradition that ought to be honored, like two terms for the President of the United States. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the midst of building the Great Progressive Boondoggle, stomped all over that tradition; it took a Constitutional amendment to keep the bootprints away for the future.) Besides, there's only one thing worse than a one-man dynasty, and that's a more-than-one-man dynasty: Kennedy and Bush fans please take note.
I was pleased to see Dr Shadid elected to City Council after his 2010 race for House District 85 went nowhere, though I admit that whatever endorsement I gave him was rather tepid at best:
Being somewhat right-of-center myself, I'm supposed to be appalled by the very idea of Someone Like That, but this is a nonpartisan election, and Dr Shadid seems to wear his heart on his sleeve, which to me means he's not going to suddenly mutate into God knows what some Tuesday around the horseshoe at City Hall, which is more than I'd say for those pseudo-Tea Party types.
"Someone Like That" was a reference to the fact that to the extent Shadid has a party affiliation, it's to the Greens; he ran for H-85 as an independent, since the Greens, like every other third party, are disdained by the Demopublican Complex that makes it damned near impossible for them to get on the ballot. Oklahoma City Council and Mayor races are, by ordinance, non-partisan, and indeed no political parties are being mentioned, but there's never been any shortage of unlabeled mud in this town.
Truth be told, Shadid did a pretty decent job representing Ward 2; he didn't quite have predecessor Sam Bowman's sheer affability, but he kept his office door open more often than not. And he raised a perfectly reasonable question about the wisdom of going all-in on the new MAPS 3-spawned convention center, pointing out that not only would it be a white elephant, but that we'd have to build a mate for that elephant, in the form of an attached hotel, at public expense. The public over the years has proven itself solidly resistant to the myth of "If you build it, they will come"; convention business is, to put it kindly, not skyrocketing.
Then came the mutation into God knows what. Shadid began questioning all the MAPS 3 stuff, and some of what had gone before, injecting some faux populism into the mix: if only we'd spent this kind of money on those other parts of the city. (Which, of course, misses the point: massive public projects in the midst of low-income areas inevitably displace residents who couldn't afford to move, without necessarily benefiting those who remain.) In a nod to the general conservatism of this town, Shadid put out a call for "public safety," noting that the population was increasing faster than the police force; this got him plaudits from the Fraternal Order of Police. (Interestingly, Sheriff John Whetsel called me to tell me of his support for Cornett; then again, the only thing shared by city police and county officers is the single downtown jail.)
The Oklahoman, which has never been overly fond of Shadid, put out a hit piece on him, which had the practical effect of increasing support for Shadid: too many people recognized it as a hit piece and gave it the consideration it deserved.
What the Oklahoman should have said finally showed up in their March 2 editorial (which, of course, was circulated with the Early Bird edition of the Sunday paper). In that piece, they make their case:
[Shadid] has the strange and skewed view that Oklahoma City is run as an oligarchy and sees himself as a voice for the voiceless. Yet these supposedly voiceless people have approved sales tax measures to fund major capital improvement projects, time after time.
Let the record show that I have never actually voted for Mick Cornett for anything. Perhaps it's time I did.
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Copyright © 2014 by Charles G. Hill