- Associated Press - Monday, April 7, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Gov. Pat McCrory’s eastern North Carolina representative was named state ferry system director Monday, replacing a veteran employee to lead one of the nation’s largest passenger boat operations.

The Department of Transportation announced the hiring of Ed Goodwin, who for nearly a year led the Republican governor’s eastern regional office. Goodwin’s career has included 21 years in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He was also chairman of the Chowan County commission.

Goodwin also won the 2012 GOP nomination for secretary of state, losing in the general election to Elaine Marshall. He has no experience within the ferry office, according to a DOT spokesman. He succeeds Harold Thomas, who started working for the division in 1994 and became director in late 2011, when Democrat Beverly Perdue was governor. He has been demoted to one of two deputy director positions.

Goodwin, who will work out of Manns Harbor, will focus on broader initiatives related to customer service, capital improvements and relations with legislators, DOT ferry spokesman Tim Hass said.

The General Assembly has mandated that future ship purchases be paid in part through tolls, advertising and concessions. Opposition is vocal to a proposal by the system to raise ferry tolls or create new tolls on all seven regular routes along the coast. The division, with 22 ferries and 2 million passengers annually, is the second-largest state-run ferry system in the country.

Goodwin “brings the type of visionary leadership experience that will help guide the ferry system into the future and secure its place as a safe, reliable and efficient transportation link for eastern North Carolina and an exceptional experience for the region’s visitors,” said DOT Chief Deputy Secretary Nick Tennyson in a release.

Goodwin will make $92,029 annually, an 84 percent increase over the $50,000 McCrory’s office said he made as chief of his eastern office. The governor’s office “didn’t have any involvement” in Goodwin’s hiring for the ferry job, McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said. Thomas‘ predecessor made about the same amount as Goodwin will as director.

Thomas‘ pay will be cut by one-third from $85,602 to $56,832, Hass said. Thomas, who will remain in Morehead City and fellow deputy director Jed Dixon will “continue to play critical leadership roles” in the system’s day-to-day operation, DOT said.

Hass wrote by email that DOT hired Goodwin and other new leaders in the department as part of an effort to “operate more efficiently and better serve customers.”

Thomas was praised by DOT for his handling of recovery efforts after Hurricane Irene.

A state audit of the ferry system released in July 2011 found problems with nepotism and budgeting within the ferry division. The department said at the time the issues had been or were being addressed.



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