Haley said it wasn’t entirely a coincidence.
The one thing I’ve learned about the military is they are given challenges, sometimes things that they’ve never done before, and they always step up and they always produce. They know that you have to run them on a strict timeline, they understand budgets, and they also understand managing.
For her choice as Secretary of Transportation, Haley went outside the political scene to nominate Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert St. Onge, a commandant at West Point from 1995-1997 and a former Pentagon official. Haley said the choice was a difficult one.
If you want to know the agency that we have had to pick where it was the most political, the most references given, the most people that cared about it, seemed to be the Department of Transportation.
The state Department of Transportation is overseen by the seven-member South Carolina Transportation Commission. Six of the members represent each of the state’s congressional districts, with one at-large seat appointed by the governor. The Secretary runs the SCDOT’s administrative functions.
Haley said she was surprised by the massive amount of lobbying she received from commissioners, legislators, and engineering companies on her choice. She said she instead wanted to find someone from outside the Columbia political sphere.
When you are looking at DOT from my standpoint, I wanted someone in there that could not be bought. I wanted someone in there that was going to be nonpolitical. I wanted someone… that understood we have transportation issues in this state and special interests can’t come first.
Since retiring from the Army in 2003, St. Onge has worked with L-3 Communications— a company that provides, among other services, translation software for the military.
Meanwhile, Haley’s choice to head the Department of Motor Vehicles is Col. Kevin Shwedo, the deputy commanding officer at Fort Jackson’s Army Training Center since 2007.
Shwedo said he will remain active in the Army until his retirement becomes official at the end of January. He also said he believes his experience running the operations at different Army training facilities gives him the skills needed to head a state agency.
Both nominations hinge on the approval of the state Senate.