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CAMPO Board hires Maureen McCoy as new director

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

Maureen McCoy was named to the permanent top spot with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization last night but not without some initial indecisiveness from members of the Transportation Policy Board.


Members insisted it was not a reflection on McCoy or finalist Douglas Weirsig, but board members offered substitute motions to delay and repost before naming McCoy to the job. The snag came when finalist Ashby Johnson pulled out of interviews less than 24 hours before a final decision.


McCoy replaces Joe Cantalupo, who stayed on the job for just under two years. He returned to the private sector, as has his predecessor Michael Aulick. Asked whether she would reflect the “old” or the “new” regime, McCoy said both.


“I think I really do look forward to working with the region and the community to ensure that our transportation planning is sustainable,” said McCoy, who came to CAMPO as a senior planner in 2001 and rose to assistant director. “I would say I learned from both regimes, and now it’s our turn to go from here on out.”


McCoy has been serving as CAMPO’s interim director. Weirsig, with Jacobs Engineering in Houston, formerly worked in transportation at the City of Houston. And Johnson most recently served as the director of transportation for the Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments.


Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell moved for McCoy’s hiring when the board came out of a two-and-a-half hour executive session last night, but his was not the last motion.


During discussion, Hays County Commissioner Will Conley told his colleagues he was at a loss. His preferred candidate was no longer in the running, and he was uncertain how to regroup or reconsider the existing candidates.


Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long, seconded by San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz, called for a month’s delay to “answer questions.”


After the meeting, Long clarified the questions were not about the two finalists but about the process for moving forward given Johnson’s choice to remove himself from the running. What seemed to tip the scale was a point of clarification, prompted by Leffingwell, that the board could delay the decision for a month, but the choice would still be between McCoy and Weirsig.


Conley suggested the motion could be followed with action to re-post the position. The motion to delay, however, went down on a vote of 8-9, with only five votes in favor of another motion to re-post the position for 60 days.


“Several members were here the last time we voted on a director, and we had a very close vote at that time,” former Sunset Valley Mayor Jeff Mills said. “That very close vote, I believe was a reflection of the quality of the candidates, and think something similar may occur tonight. I think it’s the same situation.”


The final vote in favor of McCoy was all but unanimous. Austin and Travis County support did tip the scale in favor of McCoy, initially, with Leffingwell and Commissioner Karen Huber offering proxies for their colleagues Council Member Sheryl Cole and Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt. Cole had departed the meeting early due to family obligations.


Austin transportation activist Roger Baker said it looks like they made a good choice from among a narrow field of candidates.


“Maureen is very much a smart detail person whom you rarely see caught off guard,” Baker told In Fact Daily in an email. “Without doubt Maureen has been a good assistant director, but the question is whether she will be a good top director of CAMPO — time will tell. It was obviously hard to find anyone else.

“She is not expected or allowed to promote her own policies, which are expected to come down from the CAMPO board, but in many cases she is in a position to advocate smarter than the usual solutions to the many problems facing CAMPO,” he wrote.


Information provided to the board by the city’s Human Resources Department appeared to indicate that the board would negotiate a salary for McCoy that was in line with comparable positions and somewhere between $110,000 and $140,000. City staff assisted CAMPO’s Transportation Policy Board in conducting the recruitment and interviews.


McCoy has a master’s in community and regional planning from Auburn University. She initially worked in planning in San Angelo for seven years, which was followed by 12 years with the Texas Department of Transportation, primarily working with metropolitan planning organizations. She was hired by CAMPO in 2001 and has served with both Aulick and Cantalupo.

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