Trio of Shapiro cabinet picks win Senate confirmation | Friday Morning Coffee

Picks for PennDOT, Aging, DCED lose the ‘acting’ tag from their titles

By: - May 5, 2023 7:04 am
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

Three members of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s cabinet can drop the ‘acting’ title from their business cards.

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled state Senate voted to confirm the Democratic governor’s picks to run the state Departments of AgingCommunity & Economic Development, and Transportation.

Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich; DCED Secretary Rick Siger, and Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll, all won unanimous approval from the Republican-controlled chamber, the administration said in a statement.

A bit of background:

The governor’s cabinet secretaries carry out the administration’s policy initiatives, such as Shapiro’s campaign pledge to invest in education at every level and to make Pennsylvania more attractive to businesses to fuel economic growth and create jobs.

Typically, there are about 22 cabinet members, but that can vary depending on how a governor structures their administration.

Shapiro’s nominees, who spanned partisan divides, include people who have served in industry, county and local government and some who rose through the ranks of state government to serve as high-level administrators. Shapiro also tapped several of former Gov. Tom Wolf’s cabinet members to stay in their roles.

The nominees serve as acting secretaries until confirmed by a two-thirds vote of the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Below, some background on the cabinet picks who won confirmation this week.

Gov. Josh Shapiro addresses a joint session of the state House and Senate on Tuesday, 3/7/23 (Photo by Amanda Mustard, for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).
Gov. Josh Shapiro addresses a joint session of the state House and Senate on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 (Photo by Amanda Mustard, for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).

Jason Kavulich, Secretary of Aging: In his role as director of the Lackawanna County Agency on AgingKavulich promoted the innovation and expansion of services for older adults to guarantee their rights and independence.

Kavulich has 21 years of experience in the human services field, rising from a county caseworker to supervisory administrative positions in the Lackawanna County office of youth and family services and the area agency on aging.

Rick Siger, Secretary of Community & Economic Development: Until his nomination, Siger most recently served as chief of staff and senior advisor to Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian, guiding the administration on economic and community development issues, its budget, and the leadership of more than 5,000 staff and faculty.

Under President Barack ObamaSiger served as chief of staff in the White House Office of Science and Technology, and deputy chief of staff in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Michael Carroll, Secretary of Transportation: Carroll, of Pittston, was elected to the state House in 2006, and served eight terms, including two as the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee. He also worked as legislative liaison for PennDOT under Gov. Robert Casey; served as chief of staff for former state Rep. (later Sen.) John Yudichak, and was the district office director for former Democratic U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski.

In a statement, the administration said the Senate’s unanimous approval of its nominees reflected the chamber’s “overwhelming bipartisan support” for them.

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