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Cuomo, Christie Appoint New Leaders for Port Authority

Kevin O'Toole, the new chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Kevin O’Toole, the new chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

NEW YORK CITY—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have appointed Rick Cotton as the executive director and Kevin O’Toole as the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Cotton, a former executive at NBC Universal and an aide to Gov. Cuomo, replaces Pat Foye as executive director. Foye, according to multiple published reports, will be joining the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in a top executive role. O’Toole replaces John Degnan as Port Authority chairman.

Both men will assume their new positions following tomorrow’s scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners. One of their first priorities will be to relaunch the search for a new Port Authority CEO. Degnan, who served as Port Authority chairman since 2014, stated at a Crain’s New York Real Estate Conference in June that a two-year search for a new Port Authority CEO had failed and was suspended.

Praising Foye for his leadership at the Port Authority, Gov. Cuomo said in announcing the new leadership, “With major infrastructure projects across the region underway, including the new JFK and LaGuardia Airports, the Port Authority has unprecedented momentum, and Rick Cotton has the experience and tenacity to continue moving these transformative projects ahead and lead the organization into the future.”

Gov. Christie recognized Degnan’s leadership and added, “I can think of no one better than Kevin O’Toole to assume the Port Authority chairmanship at this point, with New Jersey and New York moving forward with the most important project in generations to impact commuters and the economy in the Northeast Corridor, the Gateway Program. Kevin is the right person at the right time.”

Since January 2015, Cotton has served as Gov. Cuomo’s special counsel for interagency initiatives, overseeing most of the governor’s major downstate infrastructure priorities including upgrades at LaGuardia and JFK airports, the Penn-Farley Complex, the new Tappan Zee Bridge and the expansion of the Javits Center. Cotton joined the administration following 25 years at NBC Universal, where he held a number of positions beginning in 1989, including 20 years as EVP and general counsel and four years in London as president and managing director of CNBC Europe.

He also served as executive secretary to the Department at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under Secretary Joseph A. Califano, Jr. and special assistant for renewable energy to Deputy Secretary of Energy John Sawhill at the U.S. Department of Energy. Cotton received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Yale Law School, and served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.

O’Toole is the managing partner of O’Toole Scrivo Fernandez Weiner Van Lieu, LLC of Cedar Grove, NJ and recently concluded a long tenure in the New Jersey Legislature. During his time in the legislature, O’Toole was instrumental in the passage of landmark Transportation Trust Fund legislation that provided long-term sustainability for New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure. O’Toole received a B.A. and J.D. from Seton Hall University.

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