List of candidates for Public Service Commission exec. director pared to 15

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Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida reports that the Public Service Commission’s search for a new executive director has led to a list of 15 candidates who offer a mix of experience in Florida and other states.

The list includes candidates with intimate knowledge of the PSC and Florida government. Among them: former PSC member Braulio Baez, former PSC attorney Diana Caldwell and former legislative staff director Stephen Hogge.

But other candidates are from as far away as California, Illinois and Ohio. Commissioners are expected to interview the candidates by phone or in person this month, before each offering their choices of up to three finalists.

The PSC will meet Aug. 23 to determine the top picks and could conduct in-person interviews in September.

Chairman Art Graham said after a PSC discussion of the search Tuesday that he is looking for a person who offers managerial experience and innovation. For example, he said he wants someone who will be innovative in handling new issues from the Legislature.

The PSC began the search after former Executive Director Tim Devlin resigned under pressure in May. Commissioners and staff whittled an initial list of more than 100 applicants to 15.

The search comes as the PSC faces major issues, including a hearing that starts Wednesday to determine how much money Florida Power and Light and Progress Energy Florida should be able to charge customers in 2012 for nuclear-power projects.

But Graham said he does not have a set time frame for a new executive director to start. The PSC said earlier this summer that the job was expected to pay $115,000 to $125,000.
Along with Baez, Caldwell and Hogge, the 15 candidates include six other Florida residents and six out-of-state candidates. A list provided by the PSC includes a brief description of the candidates’ employment histories, though it was not immediately clear whether some still hold the listed jobs.

The other Florida candidates are Timothy Barden, interim Wakulla County administrator; Charles “Chris” Hart, who has served as CEO of Hart Enterprises in Tampa; Steven Marshall, who has served as a Navy logistics director and is listed as being from Tallahassee; David Russell, chief operating officer of Deuk Spine Institute in Melbourne; William Stewart, a former deputy chief of staff in the Attorney General’s Office; and Bill Veach, director of the division of hotels and restaurants at the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The out-of-state candidates are Aster Adams, an official with the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel; Christine Ericson, who has served as deputy solicitor general of the Illinois Commerce Commission; Gary Hunt, president of Scalable Growth Strategy Advisors in Danville, Calif.; Paul Montgomery, who is listed as a liaison for defense at the Pentagon in Virginia; Phillip Nowicki, who has been a consumer-affairs official in Georgia; and Michael Townsley, who has been an official with the New York Public Service Commission.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.