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STITT, JOHN KEVIN (1972– ).

On January 14, 2019, Republican John Kevin Stitt became Oklahoma’s twenty-eighth governor. Publicly known as Kevin Stitt, he was sworn into office on the steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol by Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Noma D. Gurich. The son of Rev. John L. and Joyce Stitt, he was born on December 28, 1972, in Milton, Florida. He was raised in Norman, Oklahoma, where his father served as pastor of Riverside Church. As a fourth-generation Oklahoman, young Stitt spent many summers with his grandfather, who had a dairy farm in Skiatook, Oklahoma. After graduating from Norman High School, he attended Oklahoma State University (OSU), attaining an accounting degree in 1996. He was a member of the Gamma Lambda chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. In 1998 he married Sarah Hazen. They have six children.

After graduating from OSU, Stitt worked in the financial sector. In 2000 he founded Gateway Mortgage Group, a mortgage company based in Jenks, Oklahoma, with field offices across the United States. In August 2018 he resigned as CEO and hired outside management, positioning himself to spend more time campaigning for governor of Oklahoma.

In the Republican primary he faced Mick Cornett, Dan Fisher, Gary Jones, Todd Lamb, and Gary Richardson, among others. During the primary runoff in August 2018 Stitt defeated Mick Cornett, former mayor of Oklahoma City. In the November 2018 general election Oklahoma voters selected Republican Stitt (644,579 votes) over Democrat and former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson (500,973 votes), and Libertarian Chris Powell (40,833 votes).

Stitt’s vision for Oklahoma included making it a “Top Ten” state: “‘top 10 in job growth, top 10 in education and top 10 in infrastructure.’” He argued that the state government’s operations needed better management, not more taxes. During his campaign he 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.’”

In 2015 the Heartland District of Civitan International recognized Kevin Stitt as one of two Citizens of the Year within a five-state area. The honor was based on his having built Gateway Christian School in a village in Nigeria as well as Gateway Youth Ranch in Uganda. The ranch provides orphans with schooling as well as skills that include crop, fish, and cattle raising.

Linda D. Wilson

See also: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS, REPUBLICAN PARTY

Bibliography

The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 29 August 2015, 10 October 2017, 29 August 2018, and 7 November 2018.

“Kevin Stitt,” Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Stitt, John Kevin,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=ST064.

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