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Panel to interview five candidates to lead Department of Transportation

The Florida Transportation Commission will soon submit to Gov. Ron DeSantis a shortlist of three candidates to lead the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

The nine-member panel met in person and by phone on Wednesday to discuss 12 applicants who had sought the state agency gig.

Commission members whittled the list to five and will attempt to interview each before deciding on three names on Thursday.

Those still in contention include:

Phillip Gainer, an FDOT district secretary based in Chipley. 

Scott Collister, a transportation contractor with former ties to the agency. 

Kevin Thibault, a veteran of FDOT who currently works as the southeast regional vice president of TranSystems.

— Richard Biterformer assistant secretary for intermodal systems at FDOT. 

Katharine Nees, a Texas-based transportation consultant with decades of experience in Texas’ transportation system.

Commissioners noted that Nees has a strong resume but worried that an out-of-state candidate might not be fit for the job.

Candidates will interview with the commission in this order: Thibeault, Collister, Nees, Gainer and Biter. The first interview is 8:30 a.m. Thursday. 

The FTC is scheduled to submit three finalists to DeSantis by Thursday. DeSantis’ pick will be subject to Senate confirmation.

The last FDOT Secretary, Mike Dew, resigned 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 dmcauliffe500@gmail.com.

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