Vance Smith likely to be named next DOT commissioner

All signs point to Vance Smith becoming the next commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Smith, chairman of the House transportation committee, has been interested in the DOT job for nearly two years, and it appears he will get his wish.

The deadline for applications from people interested in the DOT job was today at 5 p.m.

Word has it that Smith’s top two potential competitors did not apply for the job, meaning that he is the last man standing.

Gerald Ross, interim commissioner who has been the chief engineer, decided not to apply for the job. Instead, it is expected that he will be deputy commissioner and be able to resume his job as chief engineer.

The other potential candidate was Dick Anderson, executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. He had expressed verbal interest in the job, but apparently he did not turn in an official application.

In an email, Anderson said he had talked to the search committee, but he didn’t think the board was in agreement about whether the commissioner should have business or political skills.

“So I elected not to pursue the commissioner’s position, but rather will plan to assist the Governor in ensuring that IT3 (Investing in Tomorrow’s Transportation Today) is implemented through the new planning responsibilities in SB200,” Anderson said. To read his full email, click on “comment” at the end of this post.

With both Anderson and Ross out of the running, that means there’s a chance that the DOT board could pass a unanimous vote naming Smith as its new commissioner.

That kind of unity would be a change from the last vote for commissioner.

In December 2007, the board elected Gena Abraham (now Gena Evans) as the DOT commissioner in a 7-6 vote. Although she had support from Gov. Sonny Perdue, the DOT board ended up voting her out in February.

In the meantime, a new governance bill on transportation passed the legislature that called for a new position of chief planner, who would be appointed by the governor.

No word yet on who that might be.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

2 replies
  1. Avatar
    mariasaporta says:

    Just got an email response from Dick Anderson about whether he had decided to not apply for the DOT job. He told me I could share his response with all of you.

    Yes, that's correct. You can say that "I did talk to the search committee and Bill Kulhke about the job, but it became clear that the GDOT board was not together on whether they believed the GDOT challenges were business performance or political in nature which caused them to look for significantly different skill sets in a leader." So I elected not to pursue the commissioner's position, but rather will plan to assist the Governor in ensuring that IT3 is implemented through the new planning responsibilities in SB200.
    Dick Anderson, executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation AuthorityReport


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