|28th Governor of Oklahoma|
|Assumed office |
January 14, 2019
|Preceded by||Mary Fallin|
John Kevin Stitt
December 28, 1972
Milton, Florida, U.S.
|Education||Oklahoma State University, Stillwater ( BS)|
John Kevin Stitt (born December 28, 1972) , known as Kevin Stitt, is an American businessman and politician from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is the 28th and current governor of Oklahoma since January 14, 2019, and former CEO/founder and Chairman of Gateway Mortgage Group. He was the Republican nominee in the 2018 Oklahoma gubernatorial election, defeating Democratic nominee Drew Edmondson. He grew up in Norman, Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in accounting. Stitt and his wife Sarah have six children. A member of the Cherokee Nation, Stitt is the first Native American governor in United States history.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Financial services career
- 3 2018 Oklahoma gubernatorial campaign
- 4 Governor of Oklahoma
- 5 Post-Inaugural Civic Engagement
- 6 Policy stances
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Electoral history
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Stitt was born in Milton, Florida, and grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, where his father was the pastor of Riverside Church. He graduated from Norman High School,  and went on to attend Oklahoma State University where he received a degree in accounting. While a student at OSU, Stitt worked to pay his way through college by selling educational products door-to-door with Southwestern Advantage. He was the first person in the company’s 115-year history to achieve the top sales as a first-year sales person.  Stitt is also a member of the Gamma Lamba chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
Stitt worked in the financial services sector before starting Gateway in 2000.  According to a profile done on Stitt by Bloomberg News, he founded the company and was President/CEO until January 2014 when he became Chairman/CEO. On the campaign trail, Stitt says that he started Gateway in 2000 with "$1,000 and a computer." Stitt’s first obstacle was to get approved as a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lender, but the company needed a net worth of $50,000. To achieve this amount, Stitt put forward the equity in his home to grow Gateway. In 2002, Gateway secured its first warehouse line, began obtaining licensing in other states besides Oklahoma, and started recruiting loan officers. By 2006, Gateway had over 400 employees.
From 2007 to 2010, the U.S. economy hit a subprime mortgage crisis. Instead of abandoning the mortgage space, like others did during this time, Stitt continued to hire and expand the mission of Gateway.  The company obtained approval during this time from Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae to begin servicing mortgage loans and issuing securities. 
Since 2012, Gateway has been recognized 17 times for its success, growth and corporate culture. Gateway currently has about 1,200 team members in more than 165 locations across the country. The company estimates it will originate more than $6 billion in mortgage loans in 2018, while its servicing portfolio will eclipse $16 billion. 
In August 2018 DS News reported that he stepped down as CEO and handed the reins to Stephen Curry,  while Stitt remained as Chairman.  Gateway is a mid-sized company based in Jenks, Oklahoma which employs more than 1,200 people. The firm originates mortgages in 41 states. 
In 2009, a donation from Gateway helped build the Gateway Christian School in a small village in Nigeria that educates more than 300 students a year. Gateway continues to make an annual donation to fund teachers’ salaries, provide school supplies, give scholarships, etc. In 2015, Stitt provided a donation to purchase 215 acres in Uganda to establish the Gateway Youth Ranch, which provides orphans with traditional schooling plus sustainability skills such as crop and fish farming, raising cattle and other skills that will enhance their lives. 
In 2017, Gateway announced a national partnership with Folds of Honor that will likely exceed $100,000 in donations annually. Folds of Honor is a 501(C)(3) that provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have fallen or been disabled while serving in the United States armed forces. 
In 2009, the mortgage company was listed on a free business website whose founder was banned for life from Securities industry by SEC, Business Insider online article listed shadiest 15 companies for its business office in the state of Illinois.   According to the Business Insider article, they cited the company as originating nearly twice as many bad mortgages as its competitors.  In an article published by the Oklahoman on August 19, 2018, the newspaper highlighted the inaccuracies of the Business Insider article, reporting that "in the Illinois case, a consent order states that the Illinois banking agency investigated a Gateway loan originator for an 'alleged real estate, appraisal, and mortgage fraud scheme.' Gateway fired the employee, asked for a hearing and then agreed to what investigators found. Gateway agreed to a $10,000 fine...Stitt campaign spokeswoman Donelle Harder said the license in Illinois was never revoked. The state agreed after the appeal not to revoke the license, she said." 
NEWS9 also said that according to Georgia's Department of Banking and Finance, Stitt was banned for five years  and the company was banned for life from origination mortgages in Georgia. According to an Oklahoman article, a Gateway corporate attorney said that there were misrepresentations and insufficient background checks attributable to employees in the Georgia office but that Stitt was not involved. The employees were terminated and Gateway paid a $2,000 fine. The state overturned the lifetime ban on Gateway, effective November 2017. Gateway is able to do business in all 50 states. 
During the gubernatorial campaign, Oklahoma Watch reported that Gateway was fined by Wisconsin regulators for a "clerical error" regarding the firm's history with regulators from other states. Gateway corrected the application and was issued a license in 2009 and continues to be in good standing with the state of Wisconsin today. 
In July 2017, Stitt announced his candidacy     for the Republican nomination   for the gubernatorial election of Oklahoma.   He ran a 77 county campaign with campaign stops in nearly every city and town, against nine other candidates in the primary election, placing second in that race and defeating, among others, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb.   In the August 28 primary runoff, Stitt defeated Mick Cornett, a former Mayor of Oklahoma City, to win the nomination.  Stitt defeated Democrat Drew Edmondson and Libertarian Chris Powell in the general election in November 2018. 
In the GOP runoff, Stitt received a major boost as he was endorsed by a trio of conservative leaders U.S. Senator Ted Cruz  and former U.S. Senators Rick Santorum  and Tom Coburn.  In the General Election, Stitt was also endorsed by former primary rival Mick Cornett,  the incumbent governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin,  and President Donald Trump.  The Oklahoman reported that the Stitt campaign rejected the endorsement of Governor Fallin, stating "'We did not seek (Fallin's endorsement), and Kevin Stitt has run on a campaign message that he will do things a lot differently,' said Donelle Harder, spokeswoman for the Stitt campaign. 'He is focused on changing the structure of state government and cleaning up the mess we are currently in at the Capitol.'" 
His opponent in the general election was Drew Edmondson, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma and a candidate for governor in 2010.  During the general election, the close race drew increased attention from national media and political figures.  Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for Stitt during the general election.    
Immediately after he was declared the unofficial winner of the gubernatorial election, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol began providing security for Stitt and his family as required by state law.  Shortly thereafter, outgoing Governor Mary Fallin made a statement congratulating Stitt on his victory and instructing her staff to make office space in the Oklahoma State Capitol available to him for his transition office.  Stitt and some of his staff members met with Fallin and her staff the next morning to discuss the transition period. A spokesperson from the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services announced that Stitt would not immediately assume control of the Governor's Office until early 2020 due to the previously scheduled Capitol restoration project. Stitt also announced that he would not immediately move his family into the Oklahoma Governor's Mansion in Oklahoma City, instead remaining in Jenks until summer 2019 to allow his daughter to graduate high school. 
On November 13, 2018, Stitt announced the creation of his transition team, which he termed "Oklahoma's Turnaround".  Attorney Marc Nuttle was selected to serve as chair of the transition team. On November 20, 2018, Stitt expanded the transition team by appointing seven chairs to oversee policy advisory committees. The committees will develop policy proposals for the upcoming legislative session, prepare the governor-elect’s budget proposal, and ensure an orderly transition to the new administration. Each advisory committee chair will lead a team of Oklahomans in developing proposals for the first Legislative session in a Stitt administration: 
- Economic Growth led by Lieutenant Governor-elect Matt Pinnell
- Education led by former State Representative Michael Rogers
- Government Efficiency by former State Senator Mike Mazzei
- Health led by Marshall Snipes, past board chair of Integris Health
- Infrastructure led by Robert L. Cummins, Jr.,a highway construction industry professional
- Native Americans led by Neal McCaleb, former Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Public Safety led Steven W. Taylor, retired Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court
Stitt's first appointment in his administration were announced on November 27, 2018 when he nominated Michael Rogers as his Oklahoma Secretary of State, a position that will require confirmation by the Oklahoma Senate. Rogers served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2014 to 2018 representing Broken Arrow. While in the House, he served as chair of the House Common Education Committee.  As Secretary of State, Rogers will be Stitt's chief negotiator with the Legislature. The same day, Stitt announced he had selected Tulsa Deputy Mayor Michael Junk to serve as Chief of Staff to the Governor, a position which will select and supervise key staff in Stitt's official office.
On November 28, 2018, Stitt announced the nomination of Kenneth Wagner as his Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment, a position that will require confirmation by the Oklahoma Senate. Wagner was a senior advisor in the Environmental Protection Agency under former Administrator Scott Pruitt.  If confirmed, Wagner will serve as the governor’s chief adviser on energy and environmental policy and well oversee over Oklahoma’s energy and environmental agencies, including the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. On December 10, 2018, Stitt selected attorney Mark Burget of Norman to serve as General Counsel to the Governor. Burget will advise Stitt on all legal issues concerning the Governor and his Administration. 
Stitt announced the nomination of Blayne Arthur as Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture on December 13, 2018. A former deputy secretary for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry under Governor Fallin, Arthur will become the first women to serve as agriculture secretary if confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.  The next day, Stitt announced he would retain both Major General Michael C. Thompson and Rusty Rhoades as Adjutant General of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security, respectively, positions they held during the Fallin Administration. General Thompson commands the Oklahoma National Guard while Secretary Rhoades oversees the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. 
On December 21, 2018, Stitt announced the first major restricting of the executive cabinet. Under the Fallin Administration, state finance and administration was overseen by a single Secretary of Finance. Stitt split the duties of that former position into three new positions: a Secretary of Budget, a Secretary of Agency Accountability, and a Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration. The same day, Stitt nominated Mike Mazzei as Budget Secretary. Mazzie served in the Oklahoma Senate from 2004 to 2016 representing Tulsa. While in the Senate, he served as chair of the Senate Finance Committee. As budget chief, Mazzie, if confirmed by the Senate, will be responsible for preparing the governor’s annual budget and overseeing its implementation. 
The first appointees in 2019 were announced on January 6, 2019, when Stitt nominated Sean Kouplen of Tulsa and Brent Kisling of Enid as Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce respectively.  Kouplen, chairman and CEO of Regent Bank in Tulsa, will provide strategic direction to Oklahoma's economic development efforts while Kisling will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Department and report to Kouplen.  The next day on January 7, 2019, Stitt announced his appointment of John Budd, an executive vice president with Sonic Drive In, to serve in the newly created position of State Chief Operating Officer.  If confirmed by Senate to serve as the Secretary of Agency Accountability in Stitt's cabinet, Budd will be responsible for ensuring all state agencies provide public services in an efficient manner as they implement the Governor's policies.
The ceremony for Stitt's inauguration was held on January 14, 2019 on the south portico and front steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Members of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature were also in attendance, with Senate President Pro Temp Greg Treat leading the Oklahoma State Senate and House Speaker Charles McCall leading the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Outgoing Governor Mary Fallin, along with four of the five then living former Governors ( George Nigh, David Walters, Frank Keating, and Brad Henry) and their respective spouses attended the inauguration. Former Governor David L. Boren who recently announced his Spring 2019 sabbatical as OU Professor-- due to health reasons-- was the only living former Governor who did not attend. The various leaders of the 38 federally recognized Native American tribes headquartered in Oklahoma were also present. Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, together with judges of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, likewise attended the ceremony.
Chief Justice of Oklahoma Noma Gurich swore in Matt Pinnell as the 17th Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. Following a performance by the 145th Army Band, Chief Justice Gurich administered the oath of office at 12:11 PM to Stitt, formally investing him as the 28th Governor of Oklahoma. Stitt's wife Sarah held the Bible for the ceremony. Stitt then delivered his inaugural address, a 15-minute speech.  During the speech, Governor Stitt, harkening to his campaign slogan, urged that Oklahoma's turnaround stated with his inauguration. He called for greater gubernatorial control of the state agenices, improvement public education, reducing Oklahoma's incarceration rate, and better recruitment of new businesses to the state. Stitt's father, the Rev. John L. Stitt, ended the ceremony by giving the benediction. 
In addition to Governor Stitt and Lt. Governor Pinnell, seven other statewide officials were also administered their oaths of office: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready, Oklahoma State Treasurer Randy McDaniel, and Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony.
At a prayer service held at the First Baptist Church of Moore, OK on January 15, 2019 following the prior day’s inaugural activities, Governor Kevin Stitt and First Lady Sarah Stitt announced a planned 77-county civic engagement initiative to mobilize citizens, civic leaders, non-profit agencies, service clubs and faith groups to help and assist the social services efforts of government with local community initiatives. Governor Kevin Stitt said ““We need all of you helping,” he said. “We are going to roll out a 77-county initiative ... and we’re going to engage the nonprofits and the churches to really heal and solve some of these social issues county by county that the government can’t do, no law can do, but our heavenly father can do.”
First Lady Sarah Stitt said “We are God’s kingdom here on Earth,” she said. “It is our call to go out into our state and save people, bring people to him and help with all of these issues. Government alone cannot fix this.”
Pastor Bill Scheer and Pastors Charles Metcalf and Mike Todd gave sermons following Stitt’s address. The event also included a native language rendition of “Amazing Grace” sung by the Cherokee Youth Choir.
The social services initiatives would seek community support for persons with disabilities, as well as neglected, abused and disadvantaged children and the unemployed adults, teen pregnancies, drug/alcohol problems, the unmet needs of economically disadvantaged and re-integration of non-violent offenders back into society. First Lady Sarah Stitt said to rousing applause that she would use her platform and 77-county civic initiative to “change people’s lives for the better.” The innovative civic engagement plan uses a volunteer community group effort approach rather than law, for civic and social services and community reconciliation efforts within the boundaries of The Establishment Clause of First Amendment to the United States Constitution as defined by the Supreme Court's Lemon Test from the case of Lemon v. Kurtzman. The community strategies were developed during the campaign which include "over 300 Town Hall Meetings" where the candidate listened to the concerns of people of the state. 
Stitt is a “political outsider,” meaning he has never run for any public office before. Throughout his time on the campaign trail, Stitt has expressed his vision is to lead Oklahoma to become a Top Ten state.   His platform focuses on five pillars: government efficiency, education, economic growth, infrastructure, and healthcare. 
Stitt’s main message on the campaign trail focuses on bringing accountability, efficiency, and transparency to Oklahoma’s government. 
Since the beginning of Stitt’s campaign, he has called for Oklahoma teachers to be paid a competitive wage. Talking with the Tulsa World in October 2017, Stitt stated, “If we want to recruit great teachers, we have to pay competitive salaries. If we want to attract and retain great jobs, we’ve got to have great schools.” 
Stitt hosted roundtable meetings with educators, parents, superintendents, and education policy experts in Oklahoma in order to create a comprehensive plan for Oklahoma’s education system. On October 8, 2018, the Stitt for Governor campaign launched the Oklahoma Turnaround Plan for Education. 
Stitt has labeled himself as the only job creator and proven businessman in the race for governor. 
According to his platform, Stitt will focus on taking advantage of President Trump's tax cuts, recruiting new job creators to Oklahoma, expanding commerce, and cutting red-tape in order to grow and diversify the state's economy. 
In an interview with the City of Enid, Stitt stated, "I love what is happening nationally, the economy is really starting to take off. There is a move now to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. to repatriate dollars. I believe we've got a great opportunity over the next ten years to capture that growth... We just need a business leader as governor, somebody that understands how to recruit businesses, how to cut red tape and how to get our state growing again." 
Stitt received a 100% Pro-Life score from Oklahomans for Life. 
Stitt supports strong Second Amendment rights. In an email to a CNHI reporter, Stitt stated, "As governor, I will defend Oklahomans’ rights in the U.S. Constitution, to include Oklahomans’ right to bear arms. I don’t believe in punishing law-abiding gun owners for the atrocious and illegal actions of an individual. We need to enforce the safety laws in place and provide support for the deep, systematic problems in our society that lead to violence.” 
Stitt is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation as a descendant of his great-grandfather, Robert Benton Dawson. Dawson was given land in the Skiatook area because of his tribal citizenship, and the land is still in the family, now owned by an uncle of Stitt's.  Kevin Stitt's maternal grandparents were dairy farmers in Skiatook. Stitt's paternal grandfather was formerly the head veterinarian at the Oklahoma City Stockyards. 
Stitt married Sarah Hazen in 1998 and they have six children. Stitt and his wife are active in their church in Tulsa, Woodlake Church. 
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"Gateway Loan Bio".
https://www.gatewayloan.com/meet-kevin-stitt/. October 26, 2018. Archived from
the original on
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|archive-date=( help); External link in
"Gateway Loan History".
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https://newsok.com/article/5620327/capital-city-gov.-kevin-stitt-takes-office. Missing or empty
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|Party political offices|
Republican nominee for
Governor of Oklahoma
Governor of Oklahoma