Joan McDonald, the former senior vice president for Transportation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation was nominated by Gov. M. Jodi Rell Wednesday to lead the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.
“We must do anything possible to attract and retain good jobs in our state,” Rell said speaking about the importance of DECD’s mission. Regarding this mission, which also includes business development and responsible growth, Rell said McDonald, “gets it.”
When asked by a reporter what her party affiliation was, Rell blushed and offered that she never asked McDonald. McDonald said she was a registered Democrat.
McDonald, 51, said she will be a cheerleader for economic and community development in the state.
The biggest challenge for Connecticut is perception, McDonald said. She said unbeknownst to the public there has been job growth in the state. It just hasn’t been conveyed properly to the general public, she said.
She said the two things Connecticut has going for it is its talented workforce and its desire to hold onto a good quality of life, which includes its commitment to open space and smart growth.
McDonald said she plans on renting an apartment in Hartford for about three months while she looks for a permanent residence in the area. She said she’s spent the last 10 years living in New York’s Greenwich Village.
McDonald was one of 80 candidates interviewed by a national search committee for the position. The committee narrowed the list down to 11 candidates then interviewed 8 of the candidates before sending Rell and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele three finalists. The three finalists were then interviewed by Fedele and Rell.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Donald E. Williams, Jr., D-Brooklyn, questioned the choice of McDonald as the state’s new commissioner of DECD, saying her expertise is in transportation. “After six months, it’s good to see the governor finally moving on filling the commissioner’s position at the state DECD,” Sen. Williams said. “However, I am concerned that Ms. McDonald’s experience and expertise seems to be completely in transportation. She would probably make an ideal choice for transportation commissioner.”