Op-ed: Nomination Review Process Is a Serious Responsibility

The individuals who lead our state agencies and departments are responsible for managing billions of taxpayer dollars and meeting the needs of millions of Pennsylvania residents. The Pennsylvania Constitution helps to ensure only the most qualified individuals are entrusted with leadership roles within state government by giving the Senate the exclusive authority to advise and consent to the governor’s nominations to numerous high-ranking state positions. This responsibility cannot be taken lightly.

To learn as much as possible about nominees and discern their suitability for their respective positions, I sent each nominee a specific set of questions to answer prior to meeting with them individually. I also attended and followed numerous committee hearings to listen to each nominee’s positions on the issues, as well as listening to each individual in caucus meetings prior to making a final determination.

Governor Wolf nominated a number of highly qualified and experienced individuals to important positions. In particular, I was proud to support the nominations of Russell Redding to serve as Secretary of Agriculture, John Wetzel to serve as Secretary of Corrections and Curtis Topper to serve as Secretary of General Services.

While I voted in favor of an overwhelming majority of the governor’s selections, a select few nominees raised serious concerns that prevented me from supporting their nomination.


I opposed the selection of John Quigley to serve as Secretary of Environmental Protection because I had serious doubts about his ability to strike an appropriate balance between environmental regulation and economic development. A self-confessed ideologue, Quigley has written extensively of his positions on coal and natural gas development and supported policies that could cause serious and lasting harm to these industries. I fear he would take a similar approach with local farmers on issues like federal pollution reduction mandates. He also declined to answer the written questions I submitted, leaving significant doubt as to his intentions to pursue a balanced energy strategy in his new post.

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