Pat McCrory

RALEIGH—On Thursday, Governor-Elect Pat McCrory named former Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata as the next Secretary of Transportation.

The Wake School Board fired retired Brig. Gen. Tata as superintendent in September 2012.

“I’m pleased to officially announce today the appointment of General Tony Tata to serve as Secretary of the Department of Transportation,” said McCrory. “Throughout his career in the US Army, Tony Tata has planned and implemented multiple operations involving complex transportation and infrastructure challenges, ranging from planning operations involving ports, airfields, rail, and highways, to designing and implementing extensive infrastructure plans in developing countries.”
 
Tata gave a prepared statement, saying:

Among the many first steps, we will quickly develop a bipartisan commission to design the 25-year vision, that among other things, will help us focus resources on the most important projects.
 
“This is a bold appointment. It came as a surprise. His name was not being mentioned as a potential secretary,” said William Peace University political science professor David McLennan.
 
Critics question Tata’s appointment, particularly after his struggles and termination from the Wake County Public School System. At the time, board members criticized his dictator-like leadership style, and failures in the school’s transportation system.
 
“He had trouble negotiating the politics at a local school board. Now he’s in charge of a place with even more politics, of huge funders wanting specific projects. It may be the largest, most political department in state government,” said Founder and Executive Director of NC Policy Watch Chris Fitzsimon.
 
“He has to overcome his past, his most immediate past with the Wake County School situation. Leaving the way he did, being terminated, is not good for anyone, so he’s coming into a position in some ways having failed at the previous position,” said McLennan.

He also has not returned a request for an interview.

McCrory also appointed Sharon Decker as commerce secretary, former state representative Bill Daughtridge as administration secretary and Neal Alexander to lead the state personnel office.

McCrory and his cabinet will be officially sworn in on Saturday. Ceremonial inauguration activities will take place on Saturday, Jan. 12 in Raleigh.

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