|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Tuesday, November 2, 2004
Sacramento Bee 11-2-04
Folsom official named Caltrans boss
A Folsom city official and former lobbyist with an extensive background in transportation issues was named Monday as director of the California Department of Transportation.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tapped Will Kempton, 57, to run the transportation department, a vast bureaucracy with roughly 23,000 employees and a $10 billion budget.
Caltrans is responsible for building, operating and maintaining 50,000 miles of highway and freeway lanes and overseeing earthquake retrofit work on projects including the Bay Bridge.
In Folsom, where he was hired in 2003 as assistant city manager, Kempton was charged with working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to reopen Folsom Dam Road during commuter hours, an effort that is ongoing.
A $66 million replacement bridge is scheduled for completion in 2007.
Previously, Kempton spent a decade as a consulting partner and registered lobbyist specializing in transportation clients and development interests.
That firm, now Smith, Watts & Co., continues to represent municipal and regional transportation clients, airports, rail authorities, General Motors Corp. and steel, energy and development interests.
From 1985 to 1992, Kempton was executive director of the Santa Clara County Traffic Authority in San Jose. There, he managed construction of road projects built with a sales tax program that yielded roughly $1 billion. He got his start in transportation with Caltrans in 1973, and was the department's assistant director for legislative and congressional affairs from 1980 to 1985.
He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of San Francisco, according to a release from the Governor's Office.
Although Kempton is a Democrat, his appointment by Schwarzenegger was championed by Republicans as well, including state Sen. Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga, the former Senate Republican leader leaving office because of term limits.
"I think you're going to see him go in there and try to whip that bureaucracy into shape and get some additional savings," said Brulte, who has announced plans to join a prominent political and public affairs consulting firm.
"The biggest cost driver for road construction projects is delay. Delay adds millions of dollars in costs. So the task for Will will be to go in and move projects quicker and make sure there's a good state and local partnership," Brulte said.
Kempton fills the vacancy left by former Gov. Gray Davis' appointee, Jeff Morales, who resigned at the start of the year. The $123,255-a-year post requires Senate confirmation.
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