Governor-elect Pat McCrory has rounded out his eight-person cabinet, naming Tony Tata his secretary of the Department of Transportation.
Tata, a former general, had been superintendent of Wake County Public Schools System before being fired in September after Democrats re-took the majority on the Wake Board of Education.
The members that voted to fire Tata claimed he lacked leadership, including what many saw as a disastrous busing system at the start of the school year.
As part of his exit, Tata received more than $250,000 in severance.
He will now take home more than $120,000 a year in taxpayer dollars in his new role. His Wake County severance is not impacted by his new position.
“I feel great. I look forward to working with a great team of cabinet secretaries and helping the governor implement his vision,” Tata told NBC-17.
When asked if the appointment was vindication for his firing, he didn't answer.
When making the announcement, McCrory said of Tata, “If he can do it in Afghanistan under fire, surely he can do it in North Carolina,” referring to Tata's military experience.
Clay Pittman, press secretary for the state Democratic Party, said of Tata's appointment, “He doesn't have the kind of resume we'd like to see in that position.”
McCrory also named former Duke Energy executive Sharon Decker to his administration as Secretary of Commerce.
Bill Daughtridge of Rocky Mount will be his new Secretary of Administration. He said Daughtridge will oversee government operations, and McCrory said he may change the title of the department.
McCrory said he wants Daughtridge to do a thorough review of how state government operates, and to evaluate how the state does its contracts.
House Speaker Thom Tillis praised Daughtridge, saying, “It is hard to imagine a more qualified individual to lead the Department of the Administration than Bill Daughtridge.
“He is a Morehead Scholar, a former three-term Representative, an incredibly successful businessman, and a member of the Board of Governors. He mentored me in the North Carolina House, and he served in a critical leadership role in my office for the last two years. Bill Daughtridge is perfectly suited to leverage his areas of expertise to ensure that state government is functioning efficiently and effectively.”
McCrory named Neal Alexander of Denver, N.C., another former Duke Energy executive, his secretary of the Office of State Personnel. That position is not officially part of the Cabinet.
McCrory said he wanted Alexander to help “fix our broken government” and to bring a private-sector perspective to the position.
“I'm giving my secretaries a lot of independence,” McCrory said. He said he wants to listen and learn and then lead.
“I am incredibly proud of the strong team we've assembled,” said McCrory. “These individuals are pragmatic problem solvers and leaders that will help me run the government in the most effective way possible while seeking long-term solutions for our state.”
McCrory said that he, Daughtridge and Decker were all proteges of former Duke Power leader Bill Lee, and he said he wanted state government to have the service-oriented mentality Lee had. Lee and former NationsBank leader Hugh McColl were powerful forces in Charlotte, when the city began to boom in the late 1980s. Lee died in 1996.
McCrory had previously named:
* Thomas Stith as chief of staff.
* Lyons Gray as Secretary of Revenue.
* John Skvarla as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
* Dr. Aldona Wos as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
* Susan Kluttz as Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources.
Of the eight members of the official Cabinet, five are white men and three are white women.
Stith, who as chief of staff is not an official member of the Cabinet, is the only African-American among the appointments.