Oklahoma is the comfort home for 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Matt Pinnell. The Tulsa Republican wants all Americans to get to know Oklahoma as a place to vacation, do business or feel at home.
Pinnell served as the Oklahoma GOP chairman, and for the last few years has been the national state party director at the Republican National Committee.
Pinnell and his wife Lisa focus on their family life in Tulsa, Their family includes their daughter Claire, almost 2; son Graham, 8; daughter Kate, 11; and their son Thomas, 5.
Lisa invented the Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock. The Pinnell’s now manage and operate the business together on a day-to-day basis. They have a big warehouse in south Tulsa and a number of employees. Matt and Lisa ship their baby products all over the country and the world, he said.
“It’s kind of the American dream type story,” said Pinnell, 38. “The lieutenant governor is the small business advocate on the governor’s cabinet. At least that’s a role I hope to sell the next governor on.”
As an engine of the economy small business growth is imperative across the state’s 77 counties, Pinnell said.
“It has to be a priority for our elected officials,” Pinnell said.
Oklahomans want to improve education and workforce development, he continued. These are the two biggest issues Pinnell discusses with business owners and parents on the campaign trail.
Oklahoma has a skills gap crisis, Pinnell said. Employers tell him they would hire more people, but applicants either cannot pass a drug test or lack the skills necessary for business.
“This is from a manufacturing prospective. This is the STEM education degrees,” Pinnell said. “Tinker Air Force Base could hire a lot more STEM graduates, particularly software engineering.”
Pinnell has learned that between 1-2 million coding manufacturing jobs could be available nationwide within two years. Not enough coders are presently available to fill these employment opportunities. Oklahoma will always be an energy state, but needs to better diversify its workforce, Pinnell said.
“The leading goal of government policy needs to be private sector job growth,” Pinnell said of recruiting and retaining private sector jobs. “Ultimately those are the debates I would like to have on the floor of the state House and state Senate.”
Focusing on core services of government comes with a continuing investment in the economic diversity of the state, Pinnell said.
The filing date for federal, state and county candidates is April 11-13. The state primary election will be June 26 with a runoff, if needed, scheduled for Aug. 28, said Doug Sanderson, election board secretary. Registered voters will determine the winners on Nov. 6.
To learn more about Matt Pinnell, visit mattpinnell.com.