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Photograph by Guido Vitti for Bloomberg BusinessweekThe world has taken notice of Oklahoma City’s remarkable renaissance and its popular mayor. Oklahoma City makes regular appearances on numerous “best of” lists, and Mayor Mick Cornett was named Governing magazine’s 2010 Public Official of the Year and finished second in the world in the London-based City Mayors Foundation’s 2010 World Mayor Award.
Cornett entered politics in 2001, winning a City Council seat by the largest margin over a sitting incumbent in city history. He was elected Oklahoma City’s 35th mayor on March 2, 2004, by an overwhelming margin and is only the fourth mayor in the city’s history to be elected to three terms. He received a record 88 percent of the vote in his reelection bid and was elected to a third term in 2010.
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Cornett was a prep all-state athlete and earned a degree in journalism at the University of Oklahoma and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Cornett’s professional career has centered on media, advertising, and marketing. Following a 20-year career as an award-winning broadcaster, he was named the 2010 Advertising Man of the Year by the Oklahoma City Ad Club for his work with Ackerman-McQueen, the state’s largest advertising firm. Much of Oklahoma City’s recent recognition can be traced to Cornett’s tireless marketing of the city, through regular national television appearances and national and international speaking engagements.
Mayor Cornett led the charge to pass the visionary infrastructure program known as MAPS 3—a $777 million investment that will dramatically reshape Oklahoma City and enhance the quality of life of its residents. MAPS 3 projects include a 70-acre downtown park, improved sidewalks and hike and bike trails, a modern streetcar system, a new convention center, senior wellness/aquatic centers, and other amenities.
Cornett is guiding the completion of one of the nation’s largest public school capital improvement projects—a $700 million program to build or renovate more than 70 schools throughout the city, including a new downtown elementary school serving families in Oklahoma City’s growing urban core. In addition, he is overseeing Project 180, an ambitious $140 million, three-year redesign of Oklahoma City’s downtown streets and sidewalks, designed to make the city more pedestrian-friendly.
His leadership in securing an NBA franchise helped Oklahoma City attain major league status with the arrival of the Oklahoma City Thunder. During his tenure, Oklahoma City has had one of the strongest economies, and lowest unemployment rates, in the nation.
In 2007, he famously put Oklahoma City “on a diet,” challenging citizens to improve their health and lose a collective 1 million pounds. The goal was reached in January 2012, as more than 47,000 residents logged their weight loss on the awareness campaign’s website.
Principal, Happold Consulting; Professor, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Professor of Urban Design in Architecture, City & Regional Planning, and Landscape Architecture; co-chair, Master of Urban Design program, University of California, Berkeley
Lead Urban Adviser, Sustainable Cities and Climate Change, World Bank
Director of the Manhattan Office, New York City Department of City Planning
Chief Content Officer, Bloomberg