HART needs to ex­pand its search

Tampa Bay Times - - Opinion - The writ­ers are, re­spec­tively, the re­gional pres­i­dent of PNC Bank and the CEO of Vol­ogy, and serve as co-chairs of the Tampa Bay Part­ner­ship’s Trans­porta­tion Work­ing Group.

Hills­bor­ough County res­i­dents sent a pow­er­ful mes­sage about the im­por­tance of solv­ing our grow­ing trans­porta­tion chal­lenges by ap­prov­ing a 1-cent sales tax. This is the most im­por­tant mo­ment in the his­tory of the Hills­bor­ough Area Re­gional Tran­sit Au­thor­ity.

With the search for a new CEO un­der way, the HART board of direc­tors should select a proven leader de­serv­ing of this re­spon­si­bil­ity, who can usher in a new era for trans­porta­tion in Hills­bor­ough County and in Tampa Bay. The stakes are too high to not get this right.

To­day, the mem­bers of the Ad Hoc Com­mit­tee on Ex­ec­u­tive Search will re­view video in­ter­views and de­ter­mine which of the four can­di­dates on the “short list” will in­ter­view in per­son with the HART board in Fe­bru­ary. We’re con­cerned this can­di­date pool of­fers lim­ited ex­pe­ri­ence in serv­ing as the chief ex­ec­u­tive of a tran­sit agency, and cer­tainly not one as ro­bust as HART will be with its new ded­i­cated fund­ing source.

We urge the HART board to ex­pand its list of fi­nal­ists, take more time to seek pub­lic com­ment and con­duct in­ter­views, and be will­ing to start over if we haven’t at­tracted the skilled leader we need.

We ap­plaud the HART board for ini­ti­at­ing the search process af­ter the re­sults of the ref­er­en­dum were clear and for hir­ing a na­tion­ally rec­og­nized search firm to lead the ef­fort. We re­spect­fully ask them to take the steps we’ve out­lined to en­sure our fu­ture suc­cess.

If the right can­di­date does not come for­ward dur­ing this round of re­cruit­ment, we en­cour­age the HART board to go back to the draw­ing board. Ex­pe­di­ency should not drive this process. Our ex­pec­ta­tions are high, and we shouldn’t set­tle for less.

Chad Loar and and Barry Shevlin

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