Cornett invited to speak during GOP convention

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

by Michael Kimball

The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett was invited to speak Monday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., but a schedule change prompted by Tropical Storm Isaac has left his talk in question.

Cornett was invited to speak in his capacity as president of the Republican Mayors and Local Officials subgroup of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

"I will be speaking on behalf of mayors and local government officials all across the country," Cornett said Friday. "But we'll be able to talk about Oklahoma City, and our philosophies and my philosophies."

Cornett said he was scheduled to speak for about five minutes late Monday afternoon. The speech has not yet been rescheduled.

The speech is a good chance to catch the attention of some of the most influential political leaders in the U.S., along with the civically active GOP delegates, Cornett said.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for us to draw attention to Oklahoma City and talk about Oklahoma City to an audience who may or may not hear about us very often," Cornett said. "When you think about the people who will be in the audience, and the delegations that come from all over the country, it's a really good opportunity for us."

Cornett said his speech will focus primarily on the broad national perspective of local municipalities, but he said there will be time to show off Oklahoma City as well.

"I think it's reflective of Oklahoma City's growing presence nationally," he said of his invitation to speak. "More and more people are aware that there are good things going on in Oklahoma City, and more people are interested in it."

Nonpartisan factor
Oklahoma City's mayor and city council positions are officially nonpartisan, though Cornett is a registered Republican who once ran for a congressional seat in a GOP primary.

"I'm not partisan by nature. But I think that Oklahoma City is known for being very fiscally conservative and taking a proactive approach to the way it runs its business and creates its infrastructure through the MAPS programs," Cornett said. "I think there are a lot of principles that are reflective of the conservative agenda."

The MAPS programs are almost always a prominent element of Cornett's speeches, though that means they involve something that's relatively toxic in the national GOP narrative: taxes. But Cornett said because the Republican agenda involves localizing political power as much as possible, Oklahoma City's record of investing in itself could prove one worth duplicating for cities no matter which way they lean politically.

"In a sense, people get to determine their own tax rate in Oklahoma City ... because we allow them to vote on any changes," Cornett said. "I think that's kind of a refreshing concept."