Editor’s note: Candidates for state and national offices on the ballot for the August 28 runoff election were invited to respond to questions for profiles in The Ardmoreite. Those who chose to respond will be featured alongside their ballot opponent. For those that did not participate, basic information will be provided.
Matt Pinnell currently runs a small business in Tulsa with his wife, Lisa, and has advocated for conservative causes and principles across the country during his professional career.
Pinnell was appointed to be the Republican National Committee State Party
Director in 2013 by Reince Preibus. In that role, he oversaw all 50 states. Before his appointment, Pinnell served as the Oklahoma Republican Party State Chairman during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, helping elect Republicans in all congressional and statewide offices simultaneously for the first time in state history.
Pinnell is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and lives in Tulsa with his wife, Lisa, and 4 children.
2. Why are you running for this office?
Over the past few years I’ve been in every state across the country, bringing diverse groups of people together and solving problems. What I saw was a lack of, and often times, a negative brand associated with Oklahoma. I’m incredibly proud of my state and want our kids to proudly stay, find a job, and raise a family here. Because of my small business experience and political experience bringing diverse groups together, I believe I’m exclusively qualified to do the job of Lt. Governor. The Lt. Governor, in every state across the country, is a salesman for their state. Whether it’s tourism, economic development, or just providing leadership as the President of the State Senate, each one works with their governor and helps sell their state. I’m running because I believe I can make a difference that way.
3. What do you think are the top three biggest challenges facing our state?
I believe the three biggest challenges facing our state right now are lack of economic diversification, need for budget reform, and the lack of a true plan. A main policy goal should be fostering job growth that diversifies our industries in this state. If we don’t diversify, we will continue to be on a roller coaster tied to the price of oil.
Budget reform is desperately needed in this state. Taxpayers have no idea the amount of money sitting in funds like we saw in the Health Department earlier in the year. We need zero based budgeting and audits to make sure we account for your tax dollars.
Furthermore, the lack of a true plan has hurt us immensely. Oklahomans across all 77 counties are desperately wondering where the plan is to fix education, corrections, etc. I will work with the next Governor to provide a way forward for a better Oklahoma.
4. The top five priorities I want to address in office are:
•Continuing to serve as the small business advocate on the governor’s cabinet for small businesses across all 77 counties.
•In conjunction with the first point, I want to start highlighting and moving to fix our skills gap in this state. We have employers who would hire people today, but they don’t have the skills necessary or can pass a drug test.
•I want to start working with entrepreneurs to help Oklahoma continue to be a great place to start a business by expanding programs like the OKC Thunder’s Launch Pad accelerator.
•Tourism is an unappreciated asset for the state of Oklahoma. Give me and my family an RV instead of a security detail and we’ll promote this state.
•My wife, Lisa, and I have served as foster parents before the campaign started. The LG has a statewide bully pulpit and I will be using it for this important issue.
5. When faced with a specific situation that puts your personal viewpoint at odds with a great many of your constituents, what decision do you make and why?
I believe one reason why we are seeing such increased turnout this year is the frustration with our current elected leaders and unelected agency heads saying one thing and doing another against the will of the people. We have seen this come to a head with the recent Health Department rules on medical marijuana. The will of the people should be penultimate to policy makers and I will respect the will of Oklahomans when they make a decision.
6. What is your proposed plan for tourism and parks service throughout the state?
As I said earlier, I want tourism to be a major focus in my time as Lt. Governor. During spring break, my family rented an RV and toured the state, visiting both state parks and other tourism sites along Route 66. I will continue to do that and help craft a marketing plan for the 200 lakes, 39 tribes, more miles of Route 66, and all the other incredible assets Oklahoma has. We have success stories like the Pioneer Woman up in Pawhuska and I want to help bring that to other parts of the state.