One of the most exciting progressive political events of the year will be held this week as Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid kicks off his campaign for mayor.
The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Oklahoma City’s Farmers Market, 311 S. Klein Ave. The campaign kickoff rally at which Shadid will outline his stances and campaign strategies is expected to draw hundreds of supporters.
It’s no secret that one of Shadid’s areas of interest includes improving Oklahoma City neighborhoods that have often gone neglected even as the city’s MAPS projects have added to the downtown area’s viability. The overall and ongoing restoration of Bricktown and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s quick rise to the top of the NBA standings have helped improve the city’s national reputation a notch or two, but anyone who lives in this area also knows about the historical dilapidation, urban blight, dangerous sprawl, and lack of sidewalks and appropriate public transportation that define Oklahoma City. It’s time to start fixing those problems throughout the city, not just downtown.
Mayor Mick Cornett has announced he will run for re-election against Shadid, who represents Ward 2. Cornett, according to political observers, will run on the progress made in downtown Oklahoma City in recent years and try somehow to counter Shadid’s ground campaign, which is expected to be fierce. It’s hard to imagine Cornett, mayor since 2004, walking certain areas of the city, especially those areas that have been left out of the recent MAPS bounty. Some political observers were even surprised Cornett decided to run again, given all the time he spent away from the city relatively recently pursuing a MBA at New York University Stern School of Business.
So it’s a legitimate question to ask: Does Cornett really want to be Oklahoma City’s mayor or is he simply honoring the wishes of a small portion of the city’s small corporate power structure, which understands a Shadid campaign could be successful? Cornett does have name recognition, of course, but not all of that is on the plus side. In 2010, Cornett won re-election by only 58 percent of the vote against Steve Hunt, a little-known political activist.
Since that time, Shadid became a member of the Oklahoma City Council, fending off political attacks by corporate interests in a contentious election. He has held highly-attended forums related to urban sprawl and public transportation and is known as someone who demands public transparency of the city’s actions. He has become known as a relentless watchdog for taxpayers’ money as it relates to the MAPS 3 project.
Shadid, who ran as an independent in his council election, represents an opportunity for progressives and people who believe the city is more than just Bricktown and the Thunder to have a real voice in government policy, something which could conceivably spread in the area and serve as a building block for other elections and candidates. What makes it even more exciting is that this is no pipe dream. Shadid can win this election.
A recent editorial in The Oklahoman, one of the nation’s most conservative newspapers, warned about the mayoral race becoming acrimonious and criticized Shadid for a response to Cornett’s re-election announcement. But the real acrimony, as everyone knows, is sure to come in the same form of the outlandish personal attacks Shadid endured and fought off in his election to the council. That seems to be a given, although the editorial didn’t mention those unsuccessful attacks.
In his failed bid for an Oklahoma Congressional seat in 2006, Cornett, a Republican, ran as a right-wing extremist, opposing same-sex marriage and promoting prayer in school. As far as I know, Cornett has never disavowed these views. Here’s that video:
Progressive people here should ask themselves if someone with those views should be the face of a major metropolitan city in this country.