The deputy director and chief financial officer for the Oklahoma Transportation Department will be taking over the helm of the agency April 1.
Mike Patterson, who has held both jobs since 2010, was named Monday by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission to head the agency. His annual salary will be $139,000.
Patterson, 60, was among three key executive officers from the Transportation Department vying for the post. He will succeed Gary Ridley, who is retiring March 31.
“It was not an easy decision,” said Greg Love, chairman of the Transportation Commission.
The vote to promote Patterson, of Edmond, was unanimous, 8-0. Commissioners met for slightly more than an hour in a closed, executive session before coming back and voting during their regularly monthly meeting.
“Wow,” Patterson said to commissioners after they voted, giving credit to the agency's 2,300 employees. “There are a lot of great people here at ODOT. It's what makes ODOT what it is today.
“I welcome the opportunity to serve the department. ODOT is known nationally as one of the best, and we will continue to be so. We will continue to be laser-focused on providing a safe, effective and efficient transportation system for the people, commerce and communities of Oklahoma.”
Patterson complimented other executives of the agency, specifically Deputy Director/Chief Engineer Gary Evans and Director of Engineering David Streb who also sought the job.
“I can only imagine your decision was difficult to make because I know the talent of these individuals,” Patterson said.
Love said Patterson's financial knowledge of the agency and his knowledge of the legislative process gave him the edge. Patterson often is at the state Capitol tracking budget bills affecting his agency.
“The organization is run by the engineers and people that maintain the roads; however, the funding to make all that happen is essential,” Love said. “He knows all the ins and outs of how the financial world works as it relates to ODOT as well as the fact that he's got a very good relationship with the Legislature … as well as our federal delegation. We felt like he was the right guy for the job at this point in time.”
Patterson first worked for the Transportation Department as a summer employee in 1970 and returned in 1980 as deputy comptroller.
He was promoted to comptroller in 1984, and in 1999 he was named assistant director of finance and administration.
His father, Joe, worked from 1961-87 in the department's planning division.
Transition is set
Ridley has served as director of both the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the Oklahoma Transportation Department since 2009.
Ridley, who will retire from both positions March 31, will remain on the governor's Cabinet as secretary of transportation.
“We have a lot of people in the agency that I think could do a great job,” Ridley said. “I certainly think that Mike certainly is one of those people. He'll do a great job, and the reason he'll do a great job is because everybody else will help him.”
The Turnpike Authority and the Transportation Department, the 15th largest transportation agency in the country, will have separate directors, which is typical.
Tim Stewart, the Turnpike Authority's deputy director and chief operating officer, was named last month to head the Turnpike Authority.