Gov. Kevin Stitt moved his chief troubleshooter from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to the Department of Tourism and Recreation and added a Tulsan to his cabinet as the new secretary of commerce.
Shelley Zumwalt’s move to Tourism is the latest posting in a varied 10-year state government career that most recently included guiding the OESC through perhaps the most difficult two years of its existence.
With Tourism, Zumwalt takes over an agency in turmoil over accusations of mismanagement and perhaps criminal actions involving the renovation of state park restaurants.
Zumwalt succeeds Jerry Winchester, who resigned last summer.
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“Shelley is smart, hardworking and boasts a proven and impressive track record of strong leadership during her time at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission,” Stitt in a news release. “I look forward to her taking on this new role and am confident in her ability to promote our great state.”
Zumwalt was put in the OESC director’s position after it became apparent that the commission’s antiquated systems and limited personnel could not handle the unprecedented crush of unemployment claims — many of them fraudulent — at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also on Tuesday, Stitt appointed Tulsa business executive Chad Mariska as secretary of commerce.
He succeeds Scott Mueller, who resigned.
Mariska previously led Oklahoma-based APS FireCo, a manufacturer of fire extinguishers and other fire protection equipment, and is currently president of a family investment company. He is a member of the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development.
“Chad is a smart businessman with a strong work ethic, and I am confident that he will continue to build on our momentum to recruit and expand Oklahoma’s growing economy,” Stitt said in the release.