A former telephone executive has been tabbed to help Gov. Mary Fallin in her efforts to improve the state's economy by creating more jobs.
Fallin on Wednesday named Dave Lopez, former president of SBC Communications — now AT&T — in Oklahoma and Texas to serve as commerce secretary.
Lopez, of Oklahoma City, is a longtime civic and community leader. He serves as president of the American Fidelity Foundation, a charitable organization that gives grants for economic development, education, human services and the arts. Before joining the foundation, he served as president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.
About his experience
Lopez serves on numerous boards including the American Fidelity Corp., Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation and BancFirst Corp.
He also previously served as president of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable and was a co-chairman on the steering committee for the EDGE research fund. The Economic Development Generating Excellence Endowment fund generates money for research projects.
“He comes with a wealth of knowledge, civic involvement and certainly leadership,” Fallin said.
“I've said from day one, my main focus as governor will be to improve our economy and work to create more jobs and opportunities for Oklahomans,” she said. “The secretary of commerce will play an important role in that process.”
Her appointment of Lopez means Fallin has one Cabinet position to fill. He is her 14th Cabinet appointee; she is allowed to have 15 on her Cabinet.
State statute requires the governor to set the Cabinet structure 45 calendar days after taking office, but does not specifically require the positions be filled within that time frame.
Fallin, who took office Jan. 10, said Wednesday she is combining the secretary positions over health and human services into one appointee. Former Gov. Frank Keating previously had one Cabinet secretary for both areas.
Fallin said she also wants to look into the state establishing a fund that would allow withdrawal of money quickly to seal projects that would bring more jobs to the state. The state about three years ago had an Opportunity Fund, which could be accessed by the governor, the Senate president pro tempore and House speaker, but the arrangement drew legal challenges.
“What we're looking at is how can we best structure something that would be helpful to me for business attraction,” she said.
What we're looking at is how can we best structure something that would be helpful to me for business attraction.â€
Gov. Mary Fallin