TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Michael Dew, a former aide to Gov. Rick Scott, was added Wednesday to a short list of candidates to become the state's next transportation secretary.
The Florida Transportation Commission agreed to recommend Dew, Ronald Howse, a commission member from Orlando who is the president of an engineering and land planning company, and Richard Biter, a former department assistant secretary. The short list goes to Scott, who will select a new secretary.
Dew, a former external affairs director for Scott, is currently the chief of staff for the Department of Transportation and served in the same position for the Florida Department of Corrections.
After interviewing five candidates last week, commission members appeared to favor Howse, Biter and Phillip Gainer, a Department of Transportation district secretary, for the short list. But during a conference call Wednesday, Dew replaced Gainer in the top three.
Former Secretary Jim Boxold left the $141,001-a-year post in February for a job with the lobbying firm Capital City Consulting.
Commissioner Jim Sebesta, a former state lawmaker from St. Petersburg, proposed the commission maintain its preferences from last week. But his motion failed to garner a second.
Commission Vice Chairman Ken Wright, an Orlando attorney, then suggested the commission “give the governor a good choice” by adding Dew, in part because of the chief of staff's knowledge of the department.
Last week, Commissioner John Browning, president of an East Palatka consulting company, was the only member of the advisory panel to place Dew in his top three.
Commission Chairman Jay Trumbull of Panama City said Wednesday he would have preferred the top three to remain unchanged, with Scott getting two engineers --- Howse and Gainer --- as options.
Trumbull was joined by Commissioner Donald “Donnie” Ellington of Gainesville in voting against the change to the panel's recommendation.
“I think that Phillip would have added another engineer to the mix,” Trumbull said. “But I'm fine with that, I'm happy. We have worked hard on this, and that's our three.”
Last week commissioners expressed concern that Gainer would be hard to replace at his district office if he got promoted.
Howse did not participate in the brief conference call used to set the short list on Wednesday.
Biter was a finalist last year to run the business-recruitment agency Enterprise Florida. His son Jesse has been appointed twice by Scott to the Enterprise Florida board.
The Florida Senate will have to confirm Scott's selection.