THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, Feb. 14, 2011 --
Florida’s next transportation secretary will either be a former Santa Rosa county commissioner, an assistant transportation secretary or a member of the panel that vets candidates for the position for Gov. Rick Scott.
The three men now under consideration by the new governor, who has frozen several state contracts involving roads, highways and rail in Florida, survived interviews last week by the Florida Transportation Commission, one of the few commissions with the power to select candidates for state agencies. Scott has named 10 of the 25 agency heads he will appoint.
The candidates are Collier Enterprises vice-president Thomas Conrecode, a former member of the transportation commission, Santa Rosa County Commissioner Gordon Goodin, who lost a primary for re-election last August and DOT Assistant Secretary for Engineering and Operations Ananth Prasad, who was vice-president for HNTB, a frequent construction contractor for the DOT.
Each brings a mix of very recent business experience, which Scott has appeared to prefer in his appointments thus far, and government work. None is a household name even in state government and politics.
The finalists for DOT Secretary are:
-Collier Enterprises vice-president Thomas Conrecode, who is a resident of Scott’s hometown of Naples. Conrecode headed up Collier’s agricultural operations and real estate planning. Prior to that, he served as director of planning and permitting for Southwest Florida development company WCI Communities. He is also a former Collier County public works administrator, a position he held from 1988 to 1996. Conrecode was a member of the transportation commission from 2008 to early this year, when he resigned to pursue the DOT Secretary post himself. “You should find that my education, professional experience and two decades of advocacy and action to improve mobility throughout Florida place me in a unique position for consideration as the secretary of transportation,” he wrote in his application to the FTC Dec. 1. “I have a record of active engagement in public policy development, advocacy and implementation at the county, state and federal levels which produced remarkable results.”
-Former Santa Rosa County Commissioner Gordon Goodin, who is also owner of Bayside Development Company in northwest Florida. Goodin, who was elected to the Santa Rosa commission in 2002, finished second in a four-way primary for the Republican nomination for the seat in the most recent election. His company sells sand products to construction projects and golf courses, which he says gives him the perspective necessary to helm the state agency that had over $7 billion in spending this fiscal year and 7,426 transportation employees statewide. “Due in part to the nature of his business, Goodin knows well that a reliable transportation network is crucial to any business’s obligation to meet customer expectations that products will delivered on time and that any problems in the transportation system will impair his ability to effectively move products to market,” he wrote Dec. 10. Goodin, a native of Illinois, described himself as having “Midwest values and a common sense approach to the task.”
-DOT Assistant Secretary for Engineering and Operations Ananth Prasad, a University of Florida master’s graduate who has worked at DOT since 1991. Prasad, who became DOT’s chief engineer in 2005 and assistant secretary in 2010, came to the department a year after finishing school. He did his undergraduate studies at Regional Engineering College in Rourkela, India. He described himself as a “decisive, out of the box thinker, open-minded, change agent, business friendly, approachable, always accessible and looks for win-win solutions.”
Not included in the list was state Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, who had been the lone lawmaker under consideration for the transportation post.
Scott’s office did not immediately return requests for comment on his timetable for making a decision on the DOT Secretary position.