Stitt appointments to date Optimism, energy highlight event for Stitt
JOHN BUDD Title:
Chief Operating Officer and Secretary of Agency Accountability
Sonic Corp. executive and business consultant. In newly created position, he will be liaison between administration and state agencies.
MICHAEL JUNK Title:
Staff Chief of
Former staffer for U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn and chief of staff for Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum
MARK BURGET Title:
Longtime Oklahoma City attorney
MICHAEL ROGERS Title:
Inaugurations are a lot like the first day of baseball spring training. There are only possibilities and the future. The slate is clean. There are no sore knees or twitchy elbows.
Similar optimism and energy filled the Cox Business Center ballroom Saturday night. With governor-elect Kevin Stitt set to be sworn in on Monday in Oklahoma City, some 1,300 people paid $150 each for a pre-inaugural ball that was probably the biggest such event ever in Tulsa.
Just about every Republican of note was present, including Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, U.S. Sen. James Lankford, U.S. Reps. Kevin Hern and Markwayne Mullin, most statewide officials and a host of state senators, representatives and other assorted officials.
Other governors have had similar soirees in Tulsa ahead of the “real” inaugural ball in Oklahoma City following the swearing in ceremony, but none this large comes to mind. Every ticket was sold, which is pretty remarkable for someone who was not even a face in the crowd two years ago.
“Thank you, Tulsa,” Stitt told the assembled crowd, “we did it.”
Getting elected and governing are two different things, though, and on Monday the energy and fresh optimism of Saturday night meets the reality. Stitt is still assembling his cabinet and staff while working out a reorganization of the administrative branch.
“I'm driving my staff crazy,” Stitt said. “I'm interviewing 10 people for every position, and then bringing five of them back for second interviews.”
Speaking to reporters, Stitt said he is “getting there” in terms of completing his team. He said he expects to name secretaries of health and human services soon.
One problem is that some of the people Stitt wants to hire would have to take significant pay cuts.
“They're not making as much as in the private sector,” he said. “We've had people willing to give up seven-figure salaries to come on board.”
But, said Stitt, there is an optimism and a sense of urgency bringing such people forward.
“I'm really diligent about hiring the right people,” he said.
Oklahoma Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt and his wife, Sarah, arrive at the pre-inaugural ball at the Cox Business Center in Tulsa on Saturday.