Gov. Rick Perry wants state transportation officials to pick a Texas A&M University official and former military leader to take the reins at the Texas Department of Transportation.
Perry is encouraging Texas transportation commissioners to tap Joe Weber, A&M’s vice president of student affairs, to replace Phil Wilson as TxDOT’s executive director, Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed confirmed Monday. Perry and Weber both graduated from A&M in 1972 and have remained friends ever since.
Weber has served as A&M’s vice president for student affairs since 2008. Before that, he was commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, which involved overseeing more than 70,000 Marines and sailors. From 2004 to 2005, he served as chief of staff of the Multinational Force Iraq based in Baghdad.
“Gen. Weber is a proven, successful leader with experience heading up large organizations and overseeing construction projects like those at TxDOT, and the governor believes he would continue the modernization of the agency that Phil Wilson started,” Nashed said.
Requests for comment from Weber were not immediately returned Monday evening.
The Texas Transportation Commission has scheduled a meeting for Friday to discuss its search for a new TxDOT executive director and possibly vote on a nominee.
Wilson stepped down as TxDOT’s executive director in January to take over the Lower Colorado River Authority. The transportation commission appointed TxDOT chief financial officer James Bass as the agency’s interim executive director until commissioners decided on a replacement.
Wilson was the first non-engineer to head TxDOT in the agency’s modern history. He was picked for the position following criticism from lawmakers and the public that the agency needed a change in direction. Lawmakers and transportation commissioners have praised Wilson’s performance running the agency, particularly his ability to improve efficiencies and cut costs.
The commission has received about 150 applications for the executive director position, including one from John Barton, TxDOT’s deputy executive director and second in command. This month, commissioners held a special meeting to interview four applicants in executive session.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/03/31/perry-lobbying-m-official-take-over-txdot/.