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Mick Cornett: The Next American City

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In Conversation with Kriston Capps of CityLab

From four-term Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett comes a hopeful and illuminating look at the dynamic and inventive urban centers that will lead the United States in coming years.

Oklahoma City. Indianapolis. Charleston. Des Moines. What do these cities have in common? They are cities of modest size but outsized accomplishment, powered by a can-do spirit, valuing compromise over confrontation and progress over political victory. These are the cities leading America…and they’re not waiting for Washington’s help.

Cornett's book The Next American City: The Big Promise of Our Midsize Metros reveals how our metropolises are reinventing themselves by way of a story of civic engagement, inventive public policy, and smart urban design. It is a study of the changes re-shaping American urban life—and a blueprint for those to come.

As mayor of one of America’s most improved cities, Cornett used a bold, creative, and personal approach to orchestrate his city’s renaissance. Once regarded as a forgettable city in “flyover country,” Oklahoma City has become one of our nation’s most dynamic places—and it is not alone. In this book, Cornett translates his city’s success—and the success of cities like his—into a vision for the future of our country.

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.

Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.

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