John Kevin Stitt (born December 28, 1972) is an American businessman and politician from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is the Governor-elect of Oklahoma since Nov. 6, 2018, 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. He is the first Native American to be elected to a governorship in the United States.
|Governor-elect of Oklahoma|
January 14, 2019
|Lieutenant||Matt Pinnell (Elect)|
|Born||December 28, 1972|
Milton, Florida, U.S.
|Education||Oklahoma State University, Stillwater (BS)|
2018 Oklahoma gubernatorial campaignEdit
In July 2017, Stitt announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the gubernatorial election of Oklahoma. He ran 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.
Stitt was endorsed by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and former U.S. Senators Rick Santorum and Tom Coburn. He 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 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.
Financial services careerEdit
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.
Christian Missionary WorkEdit
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 the Business Insider article 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.
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.”
Education and personal lifeEdit
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 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 have six children. Stitt and his wife are active in their church in Tulsa, Woodlake Church.
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