April 27, 1889 - November 11, 1889
William L. Couch was born in North Carolina on November 20, 1850, the eldest of seven children. As an adult he farmed and dealt in livestock in Kansas.
Couch dreamed of acquiring free land in the Oklahoma Territory. In 1880, he joined the “Boomers” led by David L. Payne to advocate opening of the Oklahoma Territory to settlement. Couch became leader of the group after Payne’s death in 1884. Between 1885 and 1889 Couch was arrested and briefly imprisoned for making several attempts to settle in Oklahoma Territory before it was opened.
During the Land Run of April 22, 1889, approximately 10,000 people including Couch staked claims and erected tents in the area that would become Oklahoma City. Many doubted the legitimacy of Couch’s land claim because of rumors he was a “Sooner” who had staked his claim before the Land Run.
A mass meeting was held on April 26, 1889 to elect officers for a provisional city government and Couch was elected Mayor. Couch called for another election to be held on May 1, 1889, to elect permanent officers and he was again elected Mayor. During Couch’s term in office, an ordinance against claim-jumping was passed and a tax was assessed on all businesses in the City. The revenue raised from this tax funded a jail and salaries for City officers.
Mayor Couch resigned on November 11, 1889. In April of 1890, a dispute over his homestead claim culminated in a duel and he was shot. He died of his wounds on April 21, 1890.
November 27, 1889 - December 30, 1890
Andrew Jackson Beale, a native of Kentucky, came to Oklahoma Territory to take part in the Land Run on April 22, 1889. After William Couch’s resignation, he ran for Mayor against Henry Overholser and won election by fourteen votes.
Upon assuming office, Mayor Beale introduced an ordinance requiring that the Mayor and Council members serve without pay. He also worked aggressively to resolve questions of lot ownership and promised fair and equitable handling of lot claims, but in December of 1889 the U.S. Attorney General issued an order prohibiting the City’s provisional government from resolving ownership of lots until Congress set up a provisional government for Oklahoma Territory. Land disputes were a constant source of turmoil during Mayor Beale’s brief term.
Chairman of Board of Trustees
D.W. Gibbs, a civic and social leader in Oklahoma City, was appointed as Chairman of a Board of Trustees charged with setting up a statutory City government on July 15, 1890. He was among the principle petitioners for incorporation of the City of Oklahoma City in 1890, and he and the Board of Trustees set elections for City officers on August 9, 1990 under an aldermanic system of government.
D.W. Gibbs operated an ice-cream parlor which housed the City’s first piano, and the townspeople often came to hear his daughter play. Gibbs’ wife was president of the Ladies Relief Club that raised money to assist the needy.
August 12, 1890 - April 12, 1892
W.J. Gault was born in Washington County, NY, in 1830, and participated in the Land Run on April 22, 1889. He operated a lumberyard in the new city, and the lumber he sold was in great demand as the city transitioned from tents to permanent buildings.
W.J. Gault was the first Oklahoma City Mayor elected under the aldermanic system of City government established by the Board of Trustees chaired by D.W. Gibbs.
During Gault’s tenure as Mayor, the City rented the second floor of a building at 13 N Broadway for City offices, police headquarters, and a courtroom. The City jail was in the building’s basement. The highlight of Gault’s term was the granting of a franchise to the Choctaw Coal and Railway Company to build an east-west railroad through the City.
In addition to his serving as Mayor, Gault served as President of the School Board and as a member of the House of Representatives of the Fourth Territorial Legislature.
April 23, 1892 - April 9, 1894
O.A. Mitscher was born June 7, 1861, in Hillsboro, Wisconsin. He came to Oklahoma City in 1889 and was a senior partner in the Mitscher Bros. mercantile business. He and his wife, Myrta, had three children. Mitscher was elected Mayor in 1892 on the Republican ticket. During his term, city streets were improved, power plants were built, and sanitary sewers were constructed. The City’s primary revenue source at this time was the annual license fee of $250 collected from city liquor dealers.
April 9, 1894 - April 13, 18 96
Nelson Button came to Oklahoma City immediately after the Land Run, and was involved in establishing the City’s provisional government. He was appointed by the County Commissioners to the Board of Trustees chaired by D.W. Gibbs which was tasked with setting up the provisional government. When the aldermanic form of government was established he was elected as the alderman for the First Ward. He served in this position for three years and was elected Mayor in April of 1894.
As Mayor, Button was instrumental in persuading Congress to deed to the City the 160 acres of land then known as the Military Reservation, thus allowing the City to expand to the east. Button predicted that Oklahoma City would become great as it possessed the three elements required for greatness, “money, brain, and brawn.”
April 13, 1896 - April 12, 1897
Charles Graham Jones was born in Greenup, Illinois, on November 3, 1856. He came to Oklahoma City in January of 1890 and set up the City’s first flour mill. He also worked to promote development in the City and was a key player in the expansion of the railroads serving the City. Jones’ first term as Mayor lasted only one year, which coincided with an economic depression that gripped the entire nation.
During his second term, the first City Hall building was built on the northwest corner of Broadway and Grand and the water-treatment plant’s capacity was increased to meet the needs of the growing city. Jones’ term was also marked by a wave of vice and lawlessness unsurpassed in the City’s short history. Robberies took place in broad daylight and passing trains were targeted by armed bandits. No one seemed able to effectively combat the crime wave.
After leaving office, Jones remained active in civic affairs. He was a leader in the movement for Oklahoma statehood and was also involved in the relocation of the state capital from Guthrie to Oklahoma City in 1910. He and his wife, Tena, had one son.
April 12, 1897 - April 10, 1899
J.P. Allen was elected Mayor during the economic depression that had begun during Mayor Mitscher’s term. Despite the harsh economic climate, Mayor Allen worked to grow the City’s commercial and manufacturing base and motivated like-minded citizens to join him in his efforts.
These efforts bore much fruit as the Frisco Railroad, Cotton Compress, Cotton Oil Mill, NS Sherman Machine Shops, Plantsifter Mill, and St Anthony Hospital all chose to build and operate in Oklahoma City.
During Mayor Allen’s term, the City also obtained clear title to the land on which the first City Hall was built by settling a lawsuit filed against the City by the initial claimants of the land.
April 10, 1899 - April 8, 1901
Lee Van Winkle was born July 17, 1862, in Benton County, Arkansas. He married Marcella Faulkner, and they had one child. He was President and General Manager of the Oklahoma Sash and Door Co. and President of the Retail Lumber Dealers of Oklahoma.
When Van Winkle was elected to his first term as Mayor, the City government was still operating out of a dilapidated building at Broadway and Grand. The City was buying water from a private water treatment company at exorbitant rates and few of the City’s streets were paved. During his first administration the City purchased the water treatment plant and made major improvements to it.
When Van Winkle was elected Mayor again in 1903, the new City Hall was built and he continued his push for improvement of the City’s government and infrastructure. During his second administration, the City’s Engineering, Auditing, and Accounting departments were created and he succeeded in securing $2 million to pave City streets.
Although the City made tremendous progress in growth and development during Van Winkle’s two administrations, there was great controversy over the City government’s seeming inability to control crime.
April 10, 1905 - April 8, 1907
J.C. Messenbaugh was born on January 10, 1873, near Kingston, Missouri. In 1898, he graduated from college and medical school, and in 1900 he moved to Oklahoma City and established a large medical practice.
He and his wife, Laura Whisler, had two children. By the time Messenbaugh was elected Mayor in 1905, most of the City’s streets were paved, the sanitary sewer system was in place and improvements to the water-treatment plant were nearly completed.
Mayor Messenbaugh therefore focused on beautification projects. He promoted plans for parks, playgrounds and boulevards lined with trees and flowers throughout his term. Although these projects did improve the City’s image, the City government still did very little to combat the continuing crime wave.
Law-enforcement officers ignored illegal gambling and houses of prostitution continued to operate with impunity. Upon leaving office, Messenbaugh continued with his medical practice and kept his staff position at St Anthony Hospital for the rest of his life.
April 8, 1907 - April 11, 1910
Henry M. Scales was born in Holly Springs, Mississipi, on March 13, 1869. He was a graduate of Vanderbilt University and a practicing attorney when he and his wife, Lily Houston Watkins, came to Oklahoma City in 1891.
Scales was elected Mayor in 1907 based on the slogan “Let The People Rule.” Upon election he declared, “This must be a moral city and it can never be while gambling is going on against the law.” During his first term,
Mayor Scales directed the Chief of Police to shut down the gambling houses, and the Prohibition Ordinance adopted in September of 1907 closed the City’s 70 saloons. However, the gambling houses did not remain closed for very long, and bootleggers provided liquor sold at the gambling houses.
Mayor Scales was elected to a second term and called for citizens’ help in a “civic cleanup.” He suspended the Chief of Police, and a grand jury investigated charges of graft and corruption by City officials. Mayor Scales was cleared of any wrongdoing, but several City and County officials were forced out of office. A County Sheriff’s Deputy was indicted for various crimes along with several bootleggers and gamblers.
April 11, 1910 - June 8, 1911
Dan Lackey had been a member of the City Council for two years when he was appointed Acting Mayor to complete the remainder of Mayor Scales’ term. He immediately ordered the Assistant Chief of Police to clean up the town. Police officers went through the gambling houses, demolishing everything inside them.
Mayor Lackey and other City leaders campaigned to make Oklahoma City the state’s capitol, and Oklahoma City became the capitol following a statewide vote on June 10, 1910. The City replaced its aldermanic form government with a Commission form of government on March 9, 1911.
June8, 1911 - April 13,
Whit Grant, an attorney and businessman, was the first Mayor elected under the Commission form of government established in March of 1911. He had lived in Oklahoma City since 1893.
Mayor Grant promised strict law enforcement, but his administration was very lax when it came to enforcing the laws. The gambling houses that were closed under Mayor Scales’ administration reopened and bootleggers continued to ply their trade.
As City leaders continued to debate ways to clean up the City, voters made two unsuccessful attempts to recall Mayor Grant.
April 13, 1915 - December 24, 1918
Edward Overholser was born on June 20, 1869 and came to Oklahoma City in 1890. He built and operated the first long-distance telephone line in the state and also served as the first Secretary of the State Fair Association and the Manager of the City’s Waterworks.
Overholser ran for County Commissioner and won on a pledge to build a new County courthouse. After he was elected, bonds were sold for the construction of the courthouse and it was built shortly thereafter. In 1915, Overholser defeated Will Gault, Jr, in the Mayoral election by a 327-vote margin.
Overholser was successful in his efforts to end the endemic vice and lawlessness in the City. One by one, the gambling houses and bootlegging operations were shut down and the houses of prostitution were put out of business for the first time since the City’s founding.
The City experienced a serious water-supply crisis during Mayor Overholser’s term, and this led to the creation of the City’s first municipal reservoir that was later named Lake Overholser.
After leaving office, Overholser served as President of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce for nine consecutive terms before his death in April 1931.
December25, 1918 - April 7,
Byron Delos Shear was born May 12, 1869 in Hillsboro, Wisconsin. He earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1892 and came to Oklahoma City that same year to practice law. He and his wife, Ida Cunningham, had no children.
Shear served as Clerk of the U.S. Court of Oklahoma Territory from 1898 to 1903 and as the City’s Municipal Counselor from 1915 to 1918.
A highlight of Shear’s brief tenure as Mayor was the creation of a Public Sewage Board tasked with developing ways to deal with stormwater runoff and sanitary-sewer waste.
April 7, 1919 - January 9, 1923
John C. Walton was born near Indianapolis, Indiana on March 6, 1881, and came to Oklahoma City in 1903. Walton was an engineering consultant, and he was dissatisfied with the policies of the City’s Public Works Department. He therefore entered politics by running for Commissioner of Public Works.
Walton, often called “Rarin’ Jack” by his many supporters, always had a friendly smile and warm handshake for everyone he met. These traits made him very successful in winning elections. He won election as Public Works Commissioner and he subsequently won election as Mayor in 1919.
Upon election, Mayor Walton launched a “Purity Squad” campaign to keep the City free of crime and was constantly struggling with the other Commissioners for control of the Police Department.
Walton was elected Governor of Oklahoma in 1922 by a wide margin, and he was the only Oklahoma City Mayor to be elected Governor. Ten months into his term, Walton was impeached from office.
In 1932, Walton was elected to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission where he remained until his retirement in 1939.
January 9, 1923 - April 4, 1923
Mike Donnelly was born October 14, 1880, in Linn County, Missouri and came to Oklahoma City in 1904. Prior to becoming Mayor of Oklahoma City, Donnelly served as Mayor of Capitol Hill prior to its annexation by Oklahoma City in 1911. He also served as the Chief Clerk of the City’s Water Department.
Donnelly became Acting Mayor upon Mayor John Walton’s becoming Governor in January 1923 and completed the remainder of Walton’s term.
April 4, 1923 - April 12, 1927
Otto “O.A.” Cargill was born in Viola, Arkansas on February 26, 1885. He married Delia Arnold in May of 1905 in Cushing, Oklahoma, and they settled in Oklahoma City in 1912.
Upon settling in Oklahoma City, Cargill worked as a streetcar conductor and later joined the City’s police force. He studied law at night and was admitted to the State Bar in 1916. He served as County Attorney from 1919 to 1920. Cargill defeated Allen Street in the 1923 mayoral election.
When Mayor Cargill assumed office, the City was in poor financial shape. Reform efforts were stymied by members of former Mayor Walton’s administration who remained in office. The citizens lost faith in the City government and voted in 1926 to replace the Commission government with a Mayor-Council-Manager government as set forth in a new City Charter.
Successful lobbying efforts during Mayor Cargill’s term led to the US Postmaster General’s office officially declaring that the City’s Post Office would be named the Oklahoma City Post Office.
April 12, 1927 - April 12, 1931
Walter Dean came to Oklahoma Territory shortly after it was opened for settlement. He settled first in Ardmore and then moved to Oklahoma City where he established the Dean Jewelry Company.
Dean was a proponent of the adoption of the Mayor-Council-Manager form of city government in which City policies are set by the Mayor and Council and a professional City Manager oversees administrative functions. Dean was the first Mayor elected after the 1926 vote that approved the new City Charter establishing this form of government.
The adoption of the new form of government restored public confidence in the City’s leadership during Mayor Dean’s term. The City was able to pay off its debts, reduce taxes, balance its budget, and begin operating on a cash basis as prescribed by the Oklahoma Municipal Budget Act.
April 12, 1931 - November 7, 1933
Clarence Blinn was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania on June 24, 1886. After earning college and law degrees he settled in Oklahoma City and was a partner in the Wright & Blinn law firm from 1909 to 1934. He married Margaret Davis in 1911 and they had three children.
Blinn’s election as Mayor coincided with the beginning of the Great Depression A large number of citizens were out of work and faced losing their homes. Mayor Blinn and the City Council appropriated $250,000 to provide work to as many people as possible. Citizens hired with this funding built improvements at 15 City parks and straightened the course of the North Canadian River between Pennsylvania and Santa Fe, but all work stopped when funding was exhausted after 18 months.
By 1931, five airlines were flying in and out of Oklahoma City and the existing Municipal Airfield was far too small. A bond issue secured 640 acres for a new Municipal Airport that opened in 1932 with 32 daily inbound and outbound flights. This 640 acres is now the west section of Will Rogers World Airport in south Oklahoma City.
Mayor Blinn’s term was cut short by a successful recall petition on November 7, 1933.
November 7, 1933 - April 9, 1935
Thomas McGee was born in McKinney, Texas January 26, 1887. He graduated from Tyler Commercial College in 1904, and he and his wife, Vernon Ward, had four children.
McGee owned and managed the Southland Cotton Oil Company and the Creek Sales Company in Oklahoma City at the time he was elected to complete Mayor Blinn’s abbreviated term.
At the time McGee took office, the City was regaining its footing following the onset of the Great Depression. Oil production in 1934 surpassed 1933 levels and producers received higher prices. City banks grew stronger, with $72 million in deposits by March 1934. As of August 1934 the City owned property valued at $80 million, had $3 million in cash reserves, and had retired $1.65 million of bond debt. Although the Great Depression did not end until the United States entered World War II in 1941, the City had weathered the worst of the economic storm.
April 9, 1935 - April 11, 1939
John Martin was born April 18, 1892, in Clinton, Missouri. His family came to Oklahoma City in 1899. After completing his education he began a law practice. He and his wife, Mary Doyle, had four children.
Constant fighting between various factions of the City Council marked Martin’s tenure as Mayor. Eight City Managers were hired and fired during his four-year term. Despite the turmoil, bond issues totaling $1.28 million were passed and the City Jail, Police Headquarters, the Municipal Auditorium (now the Civic Center Music Hall), and the present City Hall were built.
Martin held several public offices before and after his term as Mayor, including Assistant County Attorney, Municipal Counselor, and member of the Oklahoma Legislature and the Civil Service Commission.
April 11, 1939 - April 8, 1947
Robert Hefner was born February 7, 1874 near Lone Oak, Texas. Despite having only nine months of formal education prior to turning 21, he completed college and law degrees in 1902. He and his wife, Eva Johnson, had three children.
Hefner began his law practice with a firm in Beaumont, Texas. One of his early clients was a Native American seeking placement of his family on the Indian Tribal Rolls in Oklahoma. Hefner received one-third of the Indian Land Allotment owned by his client in payment for his services, and he chose land in Carter County, Oklahoma. Oil was subsequently discovered on this land, and Hefner became very wealthy.
Hefner then moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma, and immersed himself in civic affairs. He served as School Board President, City Attorney and Mayor. He also served as a Justice on the Oklahoma Supreme Court prior to becoming Mayor of Oklahoma City.
A calm and patient leader, Hefner was able to restore harmony to the City Council and the City Manager’s office. His eight-year tenure was the first sustained period of stability in the Mayor’s office, as the City had had 24 mayors in its first 50 years and several of them served only a few months.
This atmosphere of stability and cooperation was conducive to progress, and a record-setting $23.4 million in bond issues were passed during Mayor Hefner’s term. Construction of a second City water reservoir in northwest Oklahoma City was planned and the completed reservoir was named Lake Hefner. Mayor Hefner was also instrumental in establishment of the Midwest Air Depot, now known as Tinker Field, and the City’s Planning Department was created during his administration.
Hefner’s lifelong record of service in public office and in the City’s business community led to his induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1949.
April 8, 1947 - April 7, 1959
Allen Street was born June 17, 1885, in Mexia, Texas. His family moved to Oklahoma City in 1891, and his father, Joseph Street, served for a time as a City official. After attending Vanderbilt University for two years, Street returned to Oklahoma City in 1907 an entered the funeral-home business.
Street helped organize the Boy Scouts in Oklahoma City in 1910 and donated a downtown building as a headquarters for the group. Street ran for Mayor in 1923 but was defeated by O.A. Cargill. He then served five terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and as Speaker of the House in 1928. He also served on the City Council for four years prior to his election as Mayor in 1947.
Mayor Street was the first City Mayor elected to three consecutive terms, and he maintained a positive working relationship with the Council and other City officials.
The City’s population grew tremendously at this time, and Mayor Street and the Council succeeded in passing $68.6 million in bond issues during his time in office. A 1955 bond issued funded construction of Lake Atoka, near Atoka, Oklahoma, to provide an additional water supply for the City. Also, the City was selected as the site for the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
April 7, 1959 - April 9, 1963
James Norick, born January 23, 1920, was both the first Oklahoma City Mayor born in Oklahoma City and the first City Mayor born in the 20th century. He attended public schools in Oklahoma City and began working for the family business, Norick Bros. Inc, in 1935.
Norick served on the City Council from 1951 to 1955 and was elected to his first term as Mayor during a period of continued City growth. During Norick’s first term, the City began a major annexation campaign that increased the City’s land area several times over.
This increase in size created serious infrastructure and water-supply concerns for Mayor Norick and other City leaders. Flooding from Deep Fork Creek had been a problem for some time, and a project to control this flooding began during Norick’s first term. Revenue bonds totaling $9.2 million were sold to finance construction of Lake Stanley Draper and 100-mile pipeline to move water to Lake Stanley Draper from Lake Atoka. Once completed, these projects ensured a reliable water supply for the fast growing City.
By 1961, momentum was building for the redevelopment of the downtown area, and the Council created the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority on November 2, 1961. The City also began
Norick’s 1963 bid for re-election was unsuccessful but he won election to a second term in 1967. Mayor Norick’s second term saw continued economic growth for the City, and the metropolitan-area population reached 625,700. Demolition of downtown buildings to make way for urban redevelopment began in 1968.
During and after his terms in office, Norick was active in numerous community organizations. He was also a major supporter of sporting events in the City and promoted the Central Hockey League’s first franchise in Oklahoma City. When his second term as Mayor ended in 1971, the City Council passed a resolution recognizing his service to the City and renaming the sports arena at the Fairgrounds the “Jim Norick State Fairgrounds Arena.”
April 9, 1963 - May 3, 1964
Jack Wilkes was born in Honey Grove, Texas, on August 5, 1917 and later settled in Oklahoma City. Wilkes was an ordained Methodist minister, pasturing at various churches including Wesley United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. He also served as President of Oklahoma City University from 1957 to 1963.
Wilkes ran for Mayor with the backing of the Association for Responsible Government (ARG), an organization promoting efficiency and integrity in City government. The election was dominated by concerns about metropolitan planning, Urban Renewal and the retention of the Mayor-Council-Manager form of government.
During Mayor Wilkes’ time in office, City government became more centralized and citizens passed a sales tax to buttress the City’s finances. The City’s Airport Trust received a large grant for improvements at Will Rogers World Airport and over $317 million was committed toward City growth. The City also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Land Run in 1964.
Mayor Wilkes resigned in May of 1964 to become President of Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana.
June 16, 1964 - April 11, 1967
George Shirk was born in Oklahoma City on May 1, 1913. He completed his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma in 1936.
Prior to becoming Mayor, Shirk practiced law in Oklahoma City and was involved in many civic and philanthropic organizations. He was well known for his fascination with Oklahoma history and was nicknamed “Mr. Oklahoma History” because of his numerous published works on state history and frequent references to historical events in his speeches.
Shirk was appointed Acting Mayor on June 16, 1964 to complete the remainder of Mayor Wilkes’ term and he was elected to a two-year term in April 1965.
A competent and diplomatic leader, Mayor Shirk won adoption of the downtown redevelopment plan developed by renowned architect I.M. Pei in September 1965. He also oversaw expansion of Will Rogers World Airport, completion of the Atoka Water Project begun under Mayor James Norick and the renovation of the Municipal Auditorium, which was renamed the Civic Center Music Hall. The present City seal was also adopted by the City Council during Mayor Shirk’s term.
Shirk was elected to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1969 in recognition of his outstanding service to the community and its people. He died on March 23, 1977.
April 13, 1971 - April 12, 1983
Patience Latting was born in Texhoma, Oklahoma, on August 27, 1918. She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s degree in economics from Columbia University in New York. She and her husband Trimble had four children.
Latting was the first woman to serve on the Oklahoma City Council and she is the only woman elected Mayor of Oklahoma City. She was also the first woman to be elected Mayor of an American city with a population exceeding 350,000 and the second City mayor to serve three consecutive terms.
Mayor Latting had an active interest in all aspects of City government and did not hesitate to share her opinions on how it should be run. Under her leadership, the construction of the Myriad Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City began and ground was broken for the Galleria development and the Sheraton Century Center complex. The Myriad Convention Center, now the Cox Business Services Convention Center, was completed during her first term.
Several new downtown buildings were constructed during her administration including the 36-story Liberty Bank Tower (now Chase Tower), Fidelity Plaza (now Bank of Oklahoma), the 30-story Kerr-McGee Tower (now Sandridge Energy), and the Mummers Theater building that was later renamed Stage Center.
Latting received numerous awards and honors for her public and community service both during and after her term as Mayor. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1980. Also, the street on the east side of City Hall was renamed in her honor as “Patience Latting Circle.”
April 13, 1983 - April 14,
Andrew Coats, an Oklahoma City native, served as an officer in the U.S. Navy upon completion of his undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma His duties in the Navy included serving as an advisor to the military forces of the Republic of China from 1957 to 1960. Coats returned to Oklahoma in 1960 to attend the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
While in law school, Coats was named the Outstanding Law Student in the State of Oklahoma in 1962 by the Oklahoma Bar Association. The Oklahoma Bar Association also recognized him as the Outstanding Law Graduate in 1963. Coats then began a very successful career in law that continues to this day.
Coats was elected Mayor in 1983. During his term, citizen involvement in city government increased with the creation of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee, the Oklahoma City For Economic Action, the Mayor’s Hunger/Shelter Task Force, the Galleria Committee and the Transportation Committee. Mayor Coats also fostered improved working relationships between City, County and State governments.
Mayor Coats oversaw many significant improvements to the City’s infrastructure including completion of first phase of the West Bypass, the opening of the Aquaticus exhibit at the Oklahoma City Zoo and the issuance of revenue bonds to fund upgrades to the City’s water and sewer systems and to Will Rogers World Airport. The annual Oklahoma City Arts Festival was relocated from Bicentennial Park to the Myriad Gardens during Mayor Coats’ term.
Mayor Coats’ leadership was instrumental in passage of three General Obligation Bond issues and six changes to the City Charter. Mayor Coats was also a key player in the development of the Remington Park horse racing facility which opened in 1988.
Since his term as Mayor, Coats has continued his law career. He served as President of the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm from 1987 to 1988 and has been President of the Oklahoma Bar Association. Coats is currently the Dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2005.
April 14, 1987 - April 9, 1998
Ronald Norick, son of former mayor James Norick, was born in Oklahoma City on August 5, 1941 and is a graduate of Oklahoma City University.
Mayor Norick is the only Oklahoma City mayor to be the son of a former mayor and he is the third mayor to be elected to three consecutive terms.
Mayor Norick worked tirelessly to make Oklahoma City a player on the nation’s economic stage. Under his leadership the City was chosen as a finalist for several large economic developments including a United Airlines maintenance facility. When other cities were chosen for these, Norick focused his efforts on winning passage of the five-year one-cent sales tax to fund the Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) program.
City voters approved the MAPS projects and sales tax in December 1993. The money collected was used to build nine sports, recreational, cultural, and convention facilities including the Ford Center, the Bricktown Canal, and the new downtown library that was later named in his honor. The completion of these projects in the ensuing years led to a renaissance of the downtown area and the adjacent Bricktown warehouse district. Several new hotels were built in downtown and Bricktown and many new restaurants, clubs and other entertainment venues opened in these areas.
Mayor Norick was an avid proponent of the maintenance and development of the City’s infrastructure, and provided leadership in the passage of General Obligation Bond Issues in 1989 and 1995 totaling over $374 million. The proceeds of these bond issues were used to finance projects included in a capital improvement plan formulated under Mayor Norick’s administration.
During Mayor Norick’s tenure, Oklahoma City was twice named one of the ten best-managed cities in the US by Financial World magazine and one of the ten best cities in which to do business by Fortune magazine. Oklahoma City was also rated the most affordable city to live in by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, was a major blow to the downtown area as the Murrah building was completely destroyed and many of the surrounding buildings suffered extensive damage. Mayor Norick provided strong leadership during the rescue and recovery efforts and was recognized as an eloquent spokesman for the City during this difficult time. He was also involved in the redevelopment of the areas hardest-hit by the bombing and worked to ensure that the forward progress of the downtown area continued.
Before and during his term in office, Mayor Norick was an employee of his family’s business, Norick Brothers, Inc., and was president of the company from 1981 to 1992. He is currently a General Partner of the Norick Investment Company and Chairman of the Board of Norick Software, Inc.
Norick was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2008.
April 9, 1998 - November 3, 2003
Kirk Humphreys was born September 13, 1950, Oklahoma City. He graduated from Northwest Classen High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance from the University of Oklahoma in 1972. He and his wife, Danna, have three children.
After graduating from college, Humpreys and his brothers started a product-distribution business that specialized in distributing non-food items to retailers throughout the United States. In 1989, Humphreys began Humphreys Real Estate Investments, LLC, a commercial real-estate firm specializing in the development of urban communities. This firm is currently involved in redevelopment projects in the Flatiron district and the former Downtown Airpark.
Humphreys was elected to the Putnam City School Board in 1987 and served until 1995. In 1998 Humphreys entered the mayoral race, promising that if elected he would ensure that all nine of the MAPS projects were completed. Humphreys defeated three City Council members in the election; Ward 8 Councilman Guy Liebmann, Ward 5 Councilman Jerry Foshee, and Ward 7 Councilwoman Willa Johnson.
As Mayor, Humphreys focused attention on the MAPS projects as he promised during his campaign. It soon became evident that the MAPS projects’ cost would exceed the revenue raised by the MAPS sales tax when it expired in December 1998, placing several of the projects’ completion in jeopardy. Mayor Humphreys called an election in December 1998 to extend the MAPS tax for six months to cover the shortfall. Voters approved the extension, guaranteeing that all nine of the MAPS projects would be completed
Mayor Humphreys also advocated redevelopment of the Skirvin Hotel, a downtown landmark built in 1911 that had been closed since 1988. Negotiations by the City with various developers during and after Mayor Humphreys’ term led to the hotel’s 2007 reopening as the Skirvin Hilton.
Following the example of the successful MAPS plan, Mayor Humphreys proposed a seven-year one-cent sales tax to fund building of new schools and renovation of existing schools in the 24 school districts that serve Oklahoma City and the surrounding suburbs. City voters approved the “MAPS For Kids” plan on November 13, 2001, and the final projects will be completed in 2012.
Mayor Humphreys resigned in November 2003 to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Don Nickles but was defeated in the Republican primary by Tom Coburn.
November 3 2004
November 3, 2003 - March 2,
Guy Liebmann was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma on April 27, 1936. He graduated from Oklahoma City’s Classen High School in 1954 and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Oklahoma in 1958. He then served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1959 to 1961. He has had a successful career in real-estate and investments. He and his wife, Judy, have three children.
Liebmann was the Ward 8 representative on the City Council when Mayor Humphreys resigned and he was appointed as Acting Mayor to complete the remainder of Humphreys’ term.
Liebmann is currently a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, representing House District #82.
March2, 2004 -
Mick Cornett was born and raised in Oklahoma City. He graduated from Putnam City High School and earned a Journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He worked for local media before becoming involved in politics. Mick and his wife, Lisa, raised three sons. Mick has served as mayor since 2004.