RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory’s office has confirmed what Jones+Blount first reported this morning, that Sec. Tony Tata announced at a staff meeting Tuesday that he is leaving his post at the helm of the N.C. Department of Transportation. This story will be updated throughout the day.
A statement released by Gov. McCrory’s office confirmed that Tata is leaving, saying he will “focus on personal and family matters in addition to pursuing his passion as an author.”
“Tony Tata has been a valuable partner in our efforts to reform and modernize North Carolina’s transportation system,” McCrory said in the statement. “His dedication to the people of North Carolina is in keeping with his long career of service to his community, state and country.”
Before joining McCrory’s team, Tata served as superintendent of Wake County schools, and is a former Army logistics officer, having retired as a brigadier general. During his military service, Tata was awarded the Bronze Star, which is bestowed for heroic or meritorious achievement. Tata has been criticized recently for spending too much time promoting his writing career and on his Fox News appearances, where he served as a national security expert for the TV network.
In June, Jones & Blount reported that Tata, who had been a rumored candidate for Congress in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, had been talked out of running by McCrory. “I remain committed to serving the citizens of North Carolina as Transportation Secretary,” Tata wrote in an internal memo on June 8.
Chief Deputy Secretary Nick Tennyson will serve as acting Transportation secretary. Tennyson has long been rumored to be the next in line were Tata to leave. Tennyson is a former mayor of Durham who co-founded the Metropolitan Coalition of Mayors with McCrory when McCrory was Charlotte’s mayor. While serving as mayor, Tennyson served on the Metropolitan Planning Organization for his region, which often tackles transportation issues.
Tata has been McCrory’s only transportation secretary, having served since the administration came to power in January 2013. His departure means that half of the eight cabinet agencies have seen turnover at the top post, and if Revenue Secretary Lyons Gray is confirmed for a slot on the state Utilities Commission, a fifth will depart. Original cabinet members Kieran Shanahan (Public Safety), Sharon Decker (Commerce), John Skvarla (Environment and Natural Resources) have left their original posts and been replaced by Frank Perry, John Skvarla, and Donald van der Vaart, respectively.