After considering more than 40 candidates from across the nation, the Oklahoma Broadband Governing Board has voted unanimously to hire former Oklahoma State Representative Mike Sanders as executive director of the Oklahoma Broadband Office.
“I’m honored to be asked to serve in such an important role to benefit the state of Oklahoma,” Sanders said. “This effort builds on previous work to connect the entire state with the economy of the 21st Century. The benefit to families, farms, businesses, and communities is this generation’s equivalent to the impact of rural electrification of the 1930s and the interstate system of the 1950s.”
Governor Kevin Stitt praised the board’s decision to hire Sanders.
“Mike’s extensive work at the state House and his time serving in the George W. Bush administration give him the unique ability to understand this process and how to best navigate the complicated DC bureaucracy to make sure these federal dollars are distributed fairly and align with our vision to deliver high-speed internet access to 95% of the state by 2028,” Stitt said.
Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, who serves on the governing board, expressed his confidence in Sanders.
“Mike has the experience to lead the effort to bring high-speed internet to every corner of our state. From his time with the USDA to serving on utility and transportation committees in the State House, he has the relevant background for this job. Just as important, Mike has a passion for and knowledge of Oklahoma that’s needed in this role. I trust him to make sure these dollars are invested fairly across the state. I look forward to working with him,” Pinnell said.
The chair of the governing board, Mike Fina, said Oklahoma will be well served by Sanders.
“The board has great confidence in Mike’s ability to build out our highly qualified staff and oversee the most important infrastructure improvement project of our generation,” Fina said.
Sanders served six terms in the Oklahoma House beginning in 2008. He chaired the House Utilities Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, was vice-chair of the Human Services Committee, and served as House Majority Leader.
Prior to the legislative service, Sanders worked in the White House for President George W. Bush. He also served in senior management in the United State Department of Agriculture in Rural Development and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Sanders earned his undergraduate degree in History and Pre-Law from Oklahoma Christian University and attended Georgetown University to work on a Master’s degree in Government.
After leaving the Legislature, Sanders started his own business – Sanders Strategy and Consulting Group.
Sanders lives in Kingfisher with his wife, Nellie, and sons, Davis and Walker.
The salary for the executive director will be considered at the next meeting of the governing board on March 31.
According to NonDoc- there is a sense of urgency to get monies out to broadband projects.
In an article on the selection process, they write “
“The Oklahoma Broadband Office will administer about $1.6 billion in grant funds, with the goal of providing high-speed internet service to the vast majority of Oklahomans by June 2028, when the office will be closed. Of that funding, American Rescue Plan Act money has to be spent by the end of 2024.
“The board and office were created in HB 3363, which was enacted last year. The nine-member board is responsible for broadband expansion policy and overseeing the broadband office.
“The office has already begun operations with an interim director, Kirk Martin, selected by the board. Martin did not seek the permanent position.
“The Legislature has allocated about $382 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act money to the OBO to fund various projects across the state. The OBO has received 139 broadband requests, which total about $4.3 billion.”