Normally unflappable, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett had to stop and regain his composure Wednesday as he concluded the Mayor’s Development Roundtable, one in his week of “lasts.”
His face red and his voice breaking just before he said his last “thank you,” he took a deep breath, said “I wasn’t going to do this,” and then said fully “thank you.”
The crowd of about 500 jumped to their feet to give him a round of applause.
He could be forgiven for one such moment during a week of “lasts” where he also presided over his last City Council meeting Tuesday.
Last City Council
At the beginning of Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council meeting, Cornett had some moments to relish his time as mayor where his entire family came to the front.
Citations were read and city council members took turns wishing the mayor well in his new endeavor of running for governor of Oklahoma.
He pointed out that his grandchildren did not know a time when he wasn’t the mayor.
But, once the tender moments were over with it was time to navigate the agenda as he has for the last 14 years: calm, collected and purposeful.
And after the meeting, he hurried on to the next thing, which now is his bid for the Republican nomination for governor.
Only minutes after the council meeting, movers started emptying Cornett’s office on the southeast corner of city hall for the last 14 years.
According to City Manager Jim Couch, there will only be some painting, and minor additions to the office before furniture is moved in for Mayor-elect David Holt after his swearing-in April 10.
Last Mayor’s Roundtable
The first roundtable was in 2002.
Cornett told the crowd Wednesday that there was only about 75 at the first several.
Attendance in recent years has been around 400 to 500.
Lightning talks featured current big developments going on the city such as the First National Center conversion from banking and office building to a hotel and apartments.
The special guest keynote was from Jeremy Nowak, author of the book, “the New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism.”
The Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Development went to Bank of Oklahoma for their 27-story BOK Park Plaza on West Sheridan, the first new general office building built in downtown in the last 30 years. Other buildings like the Devon Tower have been for specific companies that built them.
Cornett and Holt
Rather than the mayor giving a closing keynote, he chose to have a discussion with Mayor-elect Holt.
Before becoming an Oklahoma Senator representing part of the city’s north side, Holt spent some time as Cornett’s chief of staff.
But one of the most amusing moments of the discussion was where Holt recalled that when Cornett was still a sportscaster at one of OKC’s TV stations he had a sports card shop near where Holt grew up on the NW side.
“I’m not sure, but I like to think that at one point money changed hands between you and my child self as I bought an Orel Hershiser baseball card,” said Holt.
It was the one moment of open laughter from Cornett.
Holt showed warmth and humility as he talked about the limitations of Oklahoma City’s “weak mayor” system where the council hires a city manager to run city operations and the major serves mostly as the city’s chief convener of committees and commissions.
He said he will go from representing 80,000 constituents in this Senate district to representing over 600,000 City of Oklahoma City residents.