CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Paul Mattox, the longest-serving Transportation secretary in West Virginia history, has announced plans to leave state government, making him the latest cabinet secretary in the outgoing Tomblin administration to do so.
“I plan on leaving at the conclusion of the Tomblin Administration and returning to the private sector,” Mattox briefly stated today.
Many of Tomblin’s top staff are departing as Governor-elect Jim Justice announces his own team.
Justice today announced that Dennis Davis will serve as secretary of veterans assistance in his administration replacing Billy Wayne Bailey.
Justice announced last week that businessman Woody Thrasher will take over from Keith Burdette as Commerce Secretary. He announced the prior week that former Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy will serve as the secretary of the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, replacing Joe Thornton. Kay Goodwin, secretary for the Department of Education and the Arts, plans to retire. Randy Huffman, secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection, announced last month that he’s leaving for a new job at the Air National Guard. Karen Bowling, secretary of Health and Human Resources, submitted her resignation letter Dec. 14.
The remaining Tomblin cabinet secretaries who remain in place so far are Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss and acting Administration Secretary Mary Jane Pickens, who was named to that position just last February.
Mattox was named state Highways commissioner in 2005 by then-Gov. Joe Manchin. He was promoted in June, 2006, to Transportation secretary. He has been serving in both roles since then.
“I have had the once-in-a-lifetime honor and pleasure of working for the state I grew up in and love,” Mattox wrote in a departure note to employees and friends. “In my 12 years of service, I have held the confidence of Governor Manchin and Governor Tomblin, and worked that entire time making sure the West Virginia Department of Transportation and its 8 agencies have been noble stewards of taxpayers’ money.”
During Mattox’s time in office, West Virginia constructed more than 100 miles of new 4-lane highway, including the completion of Corridor D and accelerated work on Corridor H, W.Va. Route 9, U.S. 35, the King Coal Highway, the Coalfields Expressway, the East Beckley Bypass, the Fairmont Connector and the New River Parkway.
Mattox also had to react to some scandals within the highways department.
In 2015, state Division of Highways Equipment Division Director Bob Andrew was named in an indictment that charged him, among other things, with racketeering, bid rigging and allegedly tampering with witnesses and documents. He allegedly ordered state workers to conduct political work on state time and ordered the illegal sell of surplus vehicles and equipment. Andrews killed himself hours after the charges were made public.
This November, federal prosecutors revealed charges against two former DOH employees along with two other individuals and a corporation for skirting normal bidding practices and steering lucrative contracts to South Carolina based Dennis Corporation.
The Department of Transportation released a statement after that saying, “The West Virginia Division of Highways has no tolerance for employees who engage in illegal activity. Employees who are determined to have engaged in illegal activity will face disciplinary action and/or termination.”
Mattox is a Nitro native and began his career at Division of Highways as a co-op student in 1979 through the fall of 1987. After that, he worked for several engineering companies.
He has his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University-Tech and his masters in engineering from Marshall University. Mattox is a registered professional engineer in West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama and is also a registered professional land surveyor in West Virginia.