- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Charlie Baker filled one of the key remaining positions in his cabinet on Tuesday by naming Stephanie Pollack to serve as secretary of transportation.

Pollack comes to the new administration after nine years as associate director for research at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, where she also was an adjunct professor.

In a statement announcing the appointment, Baker said the state’s transportation network was critical to job creation and economic growth, and vital to residents who depend on it get them safely to work or to school.

“(Pollack’s) vast experience in infrastructure and policy development will help our administration to be forward-thinking as we look for more innovative ways to meet the transportation needs in every region of the commonwealth,” the Republican governor said.

Pollack previously worked for the Conservation Law Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization, and was a consultant on transportation issues for several agencies including the Boston Transportation Department and the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The Dukakis Center at Northeastern is named for former governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, a longtime advocate for public transportation and passenger rail, and his wife, Kitty.

Pollack said she looked forward to “finding better ways to meet our transportation needs, serve our customers, spur our economy and reduce our carbon footprint.”

She will move into one of the most visible positions in state government. The secretary by law also holds the title of chief executive of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), which oversees high-profile agencies including the MBTA, the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the state highway division.

Transportation accounts for about $11.3 billion, or 27 percent, of the state’s fiscal 2015 operating budget, according to Massachusetts Open Checkbook.

Pollack has advocated in the past for increases in the state’s gasoline tax to fund transportation. The Legislature in 2013 approved a 3-cent increase in the gas tax to help pay for road and bridge repairs and other transportation improvements, but this past November voters repealed a provision that would tie future increases in the tax to inflation. Baker backed repeal of gas tax indexing as a candidate and has said he does not intend to raise taxes as governor.

Baker’s only remaining unfilled cabinet post is secretary of public safety and security. Andrea Cabral, who was appointed by former Gov. Deval Patrick, is continuing in the public safety job while Baker looks for a successor.

Frank DePaola, the state’s former highway director, had been serving as acting transportation secretary since October. It was not immediately clear if DePaola would remain at MassDOT in another capacity.

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