OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt has tapped Tulsa Deputy Mayor Michael Junk to be his chief of staff.
Stitt also has asked former state Rep. Michael Rogers to be his secretary of state, a position for which Senate confirmation is required, and he has selected Donelle Harder to be deputy secretary of state.
Junk previously served as state policy adviser for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
Junk began working in Washington for former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn in 2007 and later went to work on Inhofe’s staff. He joined Mayor G.T. Bynum’s campaign as manager and became deputy mayor after Bynum was elected to lead the city in 2016.
Junk currently serves as a member of the Governor’s Task Force for the Study of the Oklahoma Tax Code and on the boards of the Oklahoma Municipal League, the Indian Nations Council of Governments and the Tulsa Board of Appeals.
“I applaud Governor-elect Stitt on his choice of Michael Junk as Chief of Staff,” Bynum said in a statement from Stitt’s campaign. “As Tulsa’s Deputy Mayor, Michael worked hand in hand with me over the last two years to lead Tulsa’s turnaround. Now, he can use that experience and knowledge in service to a similar turnaround across the entire State of Oklahoma.”
Inhofe said in the news release: “Michael Junk will be an excellent Chief of Staff to the Governor. With prior service as the Deputy Mayor of Tulsa and as my former state policy advisor, he can navigate both state and federal government to accomplish the Governor-elect’s agenda.”
Former Tulsa Mayor and Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Kathy Taylor said in the news release: “As a former colleague and friend, I have witnessed Michael’s work across party lines to promote sound policy over partisan rhetoric. He will be a vital asset to the State of Oklahoma and will facilitate strong dialogue that will help move our state forward.”
Former Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley said: “I applaud Governor-Elect Stitt for his choice in Michael Junk. Michael has been a steadfast public servant and his expertise at the federal and local level will be instrumental in building a stronger state.”
Junk’s wife, Kathryn, worked for Inhofe while he worked for Coburn. The two had been dating since college at the University of Oklahoma. They have two children.
Secretary of state: Rogers, R-Broken Arrow, announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election, citing his wife’s health and the workload required of him as chairman of the Common Education Committee as reasons for the decision.
Rogers represented House District 98 covering parts of Tulsa and Wagoner counties. He was first elected to the HD 98 seat in 2014.
Because there is a two-year restriction on former lawmakers’ going to work for agencies that receive state appropriations, Rogers’ salary will not come from state-appropriated dollars, a Stitt spokeswoman said. His salary instead will be paid from unappropriated funds such as fees that the Secretary of State’s Office receives.
Sen. Greg Treat, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem-designate, said in the Stitt campaign’s news release that “Michael Rogers is an intelligent and innovative leader and his experience in the Legislature will be an asset to Governor-elect Stitt and his entire team. I look forward to working with Michael on common-sense, conservative ideas to help make Oklahoma a Top 10 state.”
House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said in the release that Rogers is “an excellent choice to serve as Secretary of State. He has been a confidant and friend to me during the last four years in the Legislature, and he has served his district and all of Oklahoma with integrity and diligence. I am confident he will bring that same passion to serve our citizens and a desire to improve our state to Gov. Stitt’s Cabinet.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who was Oklahoma’s secretary of state under Gov. Frank Keating, said that “as a former state legislator, Michael Rogers is well equipped to serve as Oklahoma’s next Secretary of State. Given his prior government involvement, he knows well the policies and procedures necessary to be effective. As he takes on this new role as chief negotiator, I believe he will indeed serve our great state and incoming governor with distinction.”
Glenn Coffee, former Oklahoma Senate president pro tem and former secretary of state under Gov. Mary Fallin, said: “Michael Rogers quickly displayed leadership among his House colleagues, earning their respect and leading his peers to achieve bipartisan accomplishments during a difficult time for the state. This is one of many reasons why he is an excellent choice to partner with the legislature to accomplish Governor Stitt’s agenda as Secretary of State.”
Deputy secretary of state: In her new position, Harder will provide messaging strategy and policy counsel to the governor and secretary of state, according to the news release from Stitt’s campaign. She currently serves on Stitt’s executive transition team and was deputy campaign manager and spokeswoman for the campaign.
Before joining the campaign staff, Harder was vice president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association and previously served as communications director for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
She has more than 10 years of experience in political advising, strategic communications and government relations, according to the campaign.
Inhofe said that when she worked for him, she “refined a varied and wide-ranging agenda into concise, effective messaging and demonstrated an innate understanding of issues that matter to Oklahomans. She’s a strategic mastermind, and I’m confident that her background makes her the right choice to lead the Governor-elect’s messaging efforts and work with the state legislature.”
Rodd Moesel, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, said in the news release that Harder “is exceptionally bright, has had great experience in public policy at the state and federal level and is very accessible and responsive. She is a very quick study and works diligently to get complete information on a subject and then works well with others to make an intelligent and well thought out decision.
”Our state will benefit greatly from the leadership, intellectual curiosity and determination of Donelle Harder in this important role and as a key advisor to Governor Stitt.”
Stitt, who won the general election Nov. 6, will take office on Jan. 14.