by Patrick B. McGuigan
Mayor Mick Cornett may win another term of office.
However, that is not guaranteed. An election is scheduled for March 4.
The mayor has presided over Oklahoma’s largest and most important city in a time of economic growth, and during an era of optimism about the future of our city.
He has a record and should stand on it.
The mayor’s allies make the case that the city is thriving and should stay pretty much on the track now envisioned.
Is that enough to settle the issues surrounding the March 4 election?
Ward 2 Council Member Ed Shadid has provided incisive criticisms of the economics and policy issues touching a convention center envisioned in the MAPS 3 referendum.
He has presented, in his campaign materials and at recent community meetings, a strong case that this particular sort of tax-financed economic development strategy does not work as well today as it did in another era of American economic history.
Dr. Shadid has also stressed that assumptions of success for a convention center are based upon construction of a headquarters hotel — a project that in the most likely scenario would require further taxpayer subsidies.
Shadid has encouraged two initiative petition drives which, if they gain ballot status and ultimate voter approval, would slow down the convention center process, giving city leaders and citizens time to reevaluate the most expensive unfinished piece of MAPS 3.
Aside from the convention center issue, Dr. Shadid believes the mayor has not been inclusive in his appointments to various community boards.
These are debatable propositions, so let there be a debate.
The mayor says he does not want to debate because the councilman has conducted a negative campaign.
Shadid’s scrutiny of the convention proposal, of Cornett’s record after 12 years, and of the mayor’s leadership have been tough. Some might characterize his criticisms as negative, but he represents the views of many of our readers.
No one running in this race has faced the kind of negative treatment Ed Shadid endured when the state’s largest newspaper insisted his long-ago divorce records, previously sealed, be made public.
Shadid’s life, at its lowest point, was laid bare. Rather than admiration for his recovery, resilience and restoration since then, he has garnered sneers and judgments from people who have never experienced the nightmares of addiction and substance abuse in their own lives or in the lives of those they love.
When it comes to public policy, which is what the election should be about, a debate between the two leading candidates for the city’s top political and policy job would be healthy.
It would contribute to informed voting on March 4.
The mayor should engage his leading challenger at least once within the next few days, before the primary. This community newspaper’s staff can help find a neutral forum for a debate. We can serve with other news organizations to pose questions to the candidates.
Instead of leaving policy debates to surrogates, the city would be best served with a face-to-face exchange between these men.
Mayor Mick should debate Dr. Ed.