A former aide to state Sen. Jeff Brandes, lauded for his connections to upper levels of state government, was the unanimous choice Thursday to become executive director of the Hernando-Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Robert Esposito, government affairs liaison for Florida Department of Transportation District 7, succeeds Steven Diaz, who was to retire Oct. 31 but died of cancer Aug. 31.
Seven years ago, Esposito was serving as an aide to Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, when he became FDOT District 7 government liaison.
During a meeting in Lecanto, MPO members said their relationships as elected officials with FDOT over the years are stronger because of Esposito’s help.
District 7 Secretary David Gwynn and state Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Republican from Lecanto, both backed Esposito for the MPO job.
“Those are pretty solid recommendations,” MPO Chairman Jeff Kinnard, a Citrus County Commissioner, said.
Hernando County Commissioners Steve Champion and John Allocco said Esposito’s connections within FDOT and the Legislature could lead to more funding for needed road projects.
“There’s a certain amount of politics in all this stuff,” Champion said.
The MPO board interviewed two candidates for director. Board members noted that the other candidate, Joel Graeff, provided a resume that did not have specific dates for his employment history.