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Richard Biter among dozens applying for state transportation secretary

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Richard Biter, one of two unsuccessful finalists for the top job at Enterprise Florida, now has thrown in his hat to be the state’s next Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.

Biter is one of more than 80 applicants for the open position, created when former Secretary Jim Boxold resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm.

It would be a homecoming for Biter: He’s a former assistant secretary of the department.

But he may not be on the short list. The Florida Transportation Commission, the advisory board that will interview applicants and nominate three candidates for Gov. Rick Scott’s consideration, recently extended the application deadline to May 1.

Jay N. Trumbull, the commission’s chairman, had said the panel needed more time “to complete a robust search and conduct the interview process post-Legislative Session.”

Biter last year was a finalist for CEO of Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development organization, along with Mike Finney, the former president of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Finney withdrew, choosing instead to seek a teaching job at the University of Michigan, and Scott eventually tapped Chris Hart, the president and CEO of CareerSource Florida.

Hart suddenly quit earlier this month, however, citing a lack of “common vision” with the governor.

Before serving at FDOT, Biter was a transportation consultant, according to his LinkedIn page. He also has been an administrator with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the now-defunct Interstate Commerce Commission.

Other applicants include Alexander Barr, the department’s Bicycle and Pedestrian coordinator for its Treasure Coast-South Florida district; and Phillip Gainer, its District Secretary for northwest Florida. 

Out-of-staters include Brandye Hendrickson, who was Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation under then-Gov. Mike Pence; and Brian Roper, a supervisor at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

As is often the case with high-level state openings, dozens of fringe candidates also have filed for the job, including those who list their current place of employment as “Waffle House,” “Grub Burger Bar” and even “Florida Statue University.”  

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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