By Rep. Mike Sanders
Governor J. Kevin Stitt took office as Oklahoma’s 28th governor Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. It was a day filled with pomp and circumstance. Dignitaries were recognized during the inauguration ceremony; other state elected officials were sworn into office; flags waved in the brisk Oklahoma wind; a military band played; a choir sang; fighter jets rushed over the Capitol in an ear-shattering roar; and a 19-gun salute was fired. It was also a day of speeches and promises.
Gov. Stitt promised to bring Oklahomans a new sense of pride in our state as we move beyond years of recession and struggling to help people wean themselves from total dependence on government and work toward becoming what he calls a top-ten state. Stitt promised to address a pattern he’s seen repeat itself over and over in Oklahoma – living for each boom and starving through each bust. He said under his leadership the state will be open for business, and he promised to aggressively recruit new business to the state.
Stitt also promised greater accountability among state agencies. He said rightly that agencies have too much independence from voters. Agency leaders often ignore executive orders and legislative intent, skirt laws passed by the Legislature, hide pockets of money and protect their own interests by hiring lobbyists. Stitt has asked the Legislature to help him correct this by giving him more authority over hiring and firing agency heads. This is a priority for House leadership.
Stitt wisely stated that government alone cannot fix all of our state’s problems. It will take ordinary Oklahomans helping to make sure no one falls through the cracks. He said everyone must get more involved in their schools, churches, neighborhoods and local nonprofits. State government is not the best place to address community, municipal or county problems. Though state lawmakers can assist in regulation and freeing up funding, most decisions are best left to those closest to the source.
Stitt was quoted during his inaugural speech as saying, “Big goals can often feel unattainable. But don’t say that to a guy who was told it was impossible to a build a nationwide mortgage company with just $1,000 and a computer, and who was told a political outsider couldn’t become governor.”
Gov. Stitt is a political outsider. He’s the grandson of Oklahoma dairy farmers and the son of a preacher. He’s a salesman at heart, but he also has a solid business track record. He built a very successful national mortgage company before he decided to toss his hat into the political arena. He didn’t start small either, but went for the top prize in state government – the governor’s seat. I’m heartened by hearing this was a position he and his wife prayed over and sincerely felt God led them to pursue. You can’t do this job and bring change and stick to your moral compass without the good Lord’s help. I’m heartened also by Stitt’s work ethic, his enthusiasm and his love for our state. This combination will help him attract the people who will help him achieve the success he envisions.
Like everyone in our state, I’ll be watching Gov. Stitt to see if his actions follow his hopeful words. I’ll be cheering for his success. I like what I hear so far.
As always, I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.