Let there be no doubt. Ed Shadid can win the 2014 Oklahoma City mayoral election, and any potential opponents know it.
Those potential opponents include incumbent Mayor Mick Cornett, who has yet to decide if he will run for his fourth term.
Councilman Shadid, who just officially announced he’s running for mayor, has a strong grassroots following, and he can easily fill a room-a very large room, in fact-whether he’s holding a forum on urban sprawl or public transit. He’s quickly become the people’s ombudsman on the council, monitoring MAPS 3 and challenging the status quo. He has new ideas for a city that desperately needs them in terms of basic infrastructure and development, including building more sidewalks and parks and expanding public transportation.
Bricktown and the Oklahoma City Thunder have improved the quality of life here for some people and helped the city’s national image, but the city still has its fair share of urban blight, dilapidation and pockets of desolation. It’s still ranked as one of the unhealthiest cities to live in the country, partially because of its lack of basic infrastructure, such as parks and sidewalks.
Shadid, who is a medical doctor, has a special concern for the city’s health issues, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate the role of entertainment or spectacle in making a city a great place to live. As a councilman, he’s as much a city booster as anyone else. But the condition of one’s neighborhood and surrounding areas, perhaps far away from Bricktown, will determine the quality of someone’s life more than an entertainment district.
Shadid, who has run for office as an independent in the past, would also give a voice to progressives here in a state known for its extreme conservatism. Perhaps, at this point in the state’s history, it’s impossible to elect a progressive to a statewide or Congressional office, but that’s not true for Oklahoma City, which has strong, active pockets of liberalism. In a city or local election, that translates into real power.
Shadid is battle tested. In his race for the council, he was personally attacked by an anonymous group, which spent more than a few dollars in scurrilous mailers to ensure his defeat. Shadid was able to withstand the heat and easily coasted to victory.
Cornett, if he chooses to run, is a vulnerable candidate. In the last mayoral election, a little known, local activist, Steve Hunt, came fairly close to defeating Cornett. The final tally was 14,073 to 10,061, or only a 58 percent victory for Cornett, who was backed by the city’s corporate power structure.
This is not to criticize Cornett necessarily. Cornett has been a fairly competent mayor, who helped improve the city’s entertainment opportunities. But Cornett will have been mayor for ten years by the time the election comes around March 11. It’s time to think outside of Bricktown and new convention hotels.
Here’s the Shadid campaign site.