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Gov. Charlie Baker has filled one of the key remaining positions in his cabinet 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 was also 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 nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation in Boston and was a consultant on transportation issues for several agencies including the Massachusetts Port Authority.
Kristina Egan, with the advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts, says Pollock is committed to the transit needs of the poor.
"She also cares deeply about climate change and understands the importance of investing in public transportation and walking and biking," Egan told WBUR. "She also understands the importance of economic development."
Pollack 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, which oversees high-profile agencies including the MBTA, the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the state highway division.
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gas tax to help pay for road and bridge repairs and other transportation improvements, but this past November voters repealed a provision that would tie future increases in the tax to inflation.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.
With reporting by The Associated Press and WBUR's Fred Bever.
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