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La. DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson retiring from agency amid likely run for governor

1 year 4 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, February 15 2023 Feb 15, 2023 February 15, 2023 2:01 PM February 15, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The head of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is retiring from his role amid growing speculation that he plans to run for governor this year.

Governor John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday that DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson is retiring effective March 4. He was first appointed by Governor Edwards in January 2016.

For months, Wilson has hinted at a possible run for the state's top office but has stopped short of saying whether he will join the race. When asked about the prospect last month, Wilson told WBRZ that he would likely be the most viable Democratic candidate should he run.

"We're giving it some thought," Wilson said at the time. "Clearly the polls of other candidates and other interested parties show that I am probably the most viable candidate out there that's a Democrat... But it's too early to tell."

WBRZ also uncovered this week that someone registered the domains "shawnwilsonforgovernor.com" and "wilsonforgovernor.com." Both websites were registered through a third-party service.

So far, only Republican candidates have formally entered the race, including Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, State Treasure John Schroder, State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, and State Rep. Richard Nelson.

Read the full statement from the governor's office on Wilson's exit below. 

This morning, Governor John Bel Edwards accepted a letter from DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson informing the Governor that Sec. Wilson will retire from state service effective March 4, 2023.

“Dr. Shawn Wilson has been the most effective DOTD secretary in state history,” said Governor Edwards. “Despite tremendous challenges with state revenue, devastating hurricanes, and the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on our workforce and supply chain, Shawn has tackled important infrastructure projects that were previously only talked and dreamed about for decades. From the biggest, most high-profile projects along major interstates to less glamorous but equally important rural infrastructure, he has worked tirelessly to unleash our economic potential and improve quality of life for everyone in our state by making major improvements to our roads, bridges, ports, rail system, flood control, and more. His yeoman’s work will continue to bear fruit for years and years to come. He set a great example for future leaders of DOTD and our state by always focusing on what was best for our people and working across partisan, ideological, and regional divides to build consensus.”

The average state transportation secretary serves for three years, but Dr. Wilson served Louisiana in the role of secretary for more than seven and completed more than 16 years of executive service at DOTD. During his tenure as Secretary, the state invested nearly $5.5 billion in infrastructure projects around the state consisting of more than 2,230 projects compiling nearly 7,000 miles of improvements. Crucially, under Dr. Wilson’s leadership Louisiana has finally addressed long-needed projects, from the planned Calcasieu River Bridge replacement to the Barksdale Interchange, widening of I-10, elevation of LA-1, dredging of the Mississippi River and diversion of the Comite River, support for locally-owned bridges in need of repair, and so much more.

For his efforts, Sec. Wilson was recognized nationally when he was elected as the first African American president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in 2020-2021.

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