Mick Cornett served four terms as Oklahoma City’s longest-serving Mayor from 2004 to 2018. Midway through his time in office, Newsweek called him one of the five most innovative mayors in the country, and at the end of his Mayoralty he was named #25 on Fortune Magazine’s “World’s Greatest Leaders” list. London-based World Mayors listed him as the #2 mayor in the world, and Governing magazine named him the Public Official of the Year in 2010. Best known for helping Oklahoma City attract the NBA’s Thunder franchise and putting Oklahoma City “on a diet” to lose a collective million pounds, Cornett also led the charge to pass MAPS 3, an innovative $800 million civic infrastructure investment in parks, urban transit, wellness centers, and downtown amenities that have dramatically reshaped Oklahoma City. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife Terri, three sons and a growing family of sixth- and seventh-generation Oklahomans.
About The Next American City
Four-term Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett’s upbeat treatise The Next American City (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) examines the creative ways midsize cities across the country are reinventing themselves and reshaping the American Dream. Along the way, Cornett’s writing reveals the secrets to his own city’s rise from the depths of economic depression in the 1980s to its rebirth today as one of the nation’s most vibrant urban centers alongside similar stories of success and creativity from other cities in this vibrant, growing group of mid-market centers of innovation.
Named one of the country’s five most innovative mayors by Newsweek, Cornett came in at #25 on Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders for 2018. Mayor Cornett first grabbed national headlines in 2008 when he “put his city on a diet” and set a goal for he and his neighbors to together lose a million pounds. Oklahoma City had been named “one of the fattest cities in the nation”—a ranking few mayors would publicize. But Cornett insisted that if leaders talked honestly about a problem and provided an opportunity for people to invest in themselves, real change would come. Under his initiative, city residents collectively lost more than one million pounds.
But Oklahoma City’s story isn’t just about weight loss. Cornett is also known for helping Oklahoma City attract a hugely successful NBA franchise, and for leading the charge to pass MAPS 3, an innovative $800 million investment in parks, urban transit, wellness centers, and infrastructure that dramatically reshaped Oklahoma City and enhanced the quality of life of its residents.
After decades of decline and suburban sprawl that siphoned growth from hollowed out downtowns, cities like Cornett’s have rebounded. Across the country residents are returning to midsize metros at rates far outpacing the largest U.S. cities. As mayor, Cornett used a bold, creative, and personal approach to orchestrate Oklahoma City’s renaissance from “flyover city” to final destination—a crucial and untold story of urban reinvention. Drawing on lessons learned and failures overcome, Cornett translates his city’s success into a vision for the future.
The Next American City outlines the trends and introduces the big ideas that have transformed the nation’s smaller cities into hubs of energy and innovation. Cornett tells stories of urban renewal that crisscross the country, including:
- The resilience found in post-Katrina New Orleans
- Sustainable planning in Seattle
- Rekindled entrepreneurship in Buffalo
- Riverfront revival in Des Moines
- A culture of compassion in Louisville, and
- Revitalization and environmental cleanup in Chattanooga
From these specific anecdotes rise the larger lessons that can apply to all cities—indeed, to all organizations, large or small, such as:
- How to turn moments of failure and devastation into fuel for a brighter future
- How to find your most powerful agents of change in the most unexpected places
- How to work with what you have to become what you want
Each case study further illuminates Cornett’s experiences in Oklahoma City, and sets an example for how he believes leadership can build success in communities of all kinds. With unflagging optimism, Mayor Cornett champions cities of modest size but outsized accomplishment and leads a rallying cry for a revolution of renewal that promises to change the nation’s future.