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Three names for Transportation Secretary forwarded to Ron DeSantis

Gov. Ron DeSantis will consider three former or current employees of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to be the next head of the state agency.

The Florida Transportation Commission (FTC), as required by law, agreed to a shortlist of contenders on Thursday after interviewing potentials for the job.

Richard Biter, Kevin Thibault and Phillip Gainer made the cut. The names won’t come to DeSantis with any hierarchy; all are considered equally viable.

Gainer, of Chipley, is a district secretary at FDOT. He began working for the agency in 2010, according to his work history provided to the FTC.

Thibault is a veteran of FDOT who currently works as the southeast regional vice president of TranSystems. POLITICO Florida previously reported that Thibault held a role in an illegal billboard permitting process during his time at the agency.

Biter is a former assistant secretary for intermodal systems at FDOT. He boasts more than 40 years of experience in the transportation industry.

As well, commissioners elected a new chair. Ron Howse will replace Jay Trumbull as the head of the nine-member panel. Trumbull will now act as vice chair.

The nine-member panel met in person and by phone on Wednesday to discuss 12 applicants who had sought the state agency gig. Commissioners shortened the crop of potentials to five before meeting again Thursday morning to conduct interviews.

No longer in consideration are Katharine Nees, a Texas-based transportation consultant with decades of experience in Texas’ transportation system, and Scott Collister, a transportation contractor with former ties to the agency.

DeSantis’ pick will be subject to Senate confirmation.

The last FDOT Secretary, Mike Dewresigned in December to take a job with DeSantis’ transition team. Erik Fenniman is serving as the interim Secretary.

Written By

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at

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