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PA-Gov: Wolf Announces More Cabinet Choices

Tom-WolfGovernor-Elect Tom Wolf unveiled a few more of his cabinet choices today.

Wolf announced Pedro Cortes as his nominee for Secretary of State and Denise Smyler as General Counsel.

“I am pleased that Denise and Pedro will be joining my administration,” said Governor-elect Tom Wolf. “Denise has a long record of excellence and experience working with multiple levels of government, and Pedro vastly improved operations at the Department of State during his previous tenure. Pedro’s experience will help me enhance the democratic process in our commonwealth and ensure Pennsylvanians can better exercise their right to vote and expediently file business documents. Each of these individuals will be an asset to my administration.”

On Monday Wolf revealed his selections for Revenue Secretary and head of the Department of Community and Economic Development.

The Governor-Elect’s transition team released the following background information on Pedro Cortes:

Pedro Cortés, a native of Puerto Rico, began his career in 1993 at the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. From 2003 to 2010, Pedro served as secretary of the Commonwealth under Governor Edward G. Rendell, making him the first confirmed Latino cabinet member and longest serving secretary of state in Pennsylvania history. Prior to being appointed secretary of the Commonwealth, Pedro served as executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs for three years beginning in March 2000. Currently, Pedro is a partner with the law firm of Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer and Kupersmith. He holds a J.D. from Penn State Dickinson School of Law, M.P.A. from Penn State Harrisburg and B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration from the University of Massachusetts. Pedro currently resides in Harrisburg with his wife, Lissette Lizardi-Cortés, and their daughter, Gabriela.

Pedro Cortés is the longest serving secretary of state in Pennsylvania history. During his prior seven-year tenure, the department improved elections, reduced the processing time of business filings from 36 business days to one day, spearheaded the nation’s first statewide electronic notarization program, and reduced the time it took to review professional and occupation licensure complaints. He also has a proven record enfranchising voters. Cortés was the first Pennsylvanian to become president of the National Association of Secretaries of State in the association’s 104 year history.

They also sent out some biographical information on Denise Smyler:

Denise Smyler is the founding attorney and owner of the Smyler Firm, which united with Wadud Ahmad and Joseph Zaffarese to form Ahmad, Zaffarese & Smyler, LLC in September 2013. In 2011, Mayor Michael Nutter appointed Denise to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Board. Mayor Nutter also picked Smyler to serve on the nominating panel for the Board of Property Assessment Appeals. Previously, Denise worked as an assistant district attorney and as legal counsel to the Philadelphia Prison Commissioner before being appointed chief legal counsel to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner. While serving as counsel to the Prison System and Police Department, Denise also advised and represented the city in State and Federal Court proceedings relative to labor matters and worked on drafting and negotiating contracts on behalf of city agencies. Denise has a degree from New York University and earned her J.D. from Georgetown University.

Denise Smyler has significant legal experience in government, serving as an assistant district attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office from 1987 to 1993. She was also the first woman to serve as counsel to the Philadelphia Police Department. Smyler founded and successfully operated a multi-attorney law firm concentrating in municipal finance matters and civil defense litigation for 16 years.

5 Responses

  1. Where would I look for a position within the Executive Branch of Pa for an appointment to DEP or OMHSAS. I would like to tender my interest in a position under this Administration.

  2. Pedro Cortez was the person in charge of checking abortion clinics in PA. Unfortunately, he didn’t do anything about the Gosnell clinic with dead women, filth, and the babies killed after they were born. What a bad choice. Already unethical.

  3. As the new democratic governor of Pennsylvania, I strongly suggest you lean as far to the right as possible. There are more conservatives in Pa. than you think. Philadelphia is only part of Pa.

  4. The poster Marcellus Shale should do his/her homework. PA State Forests and Parks are under the control of the current Governor, who has legal authority to impose a gas-leasing moratorium on state-owned land. Wolf has correctly called for the re-instatement of the lasing moratorium imposed through Executive Order by Rendell that was rescinded by Corbett. I expect Wolf to follow through on his campaign pledge to reestablish a gas leasing moratorium on those lands that he can control.

    However, the Governor has no legal authority to unilaterally impose an across-the-board drilling moratorium on privately-held lands. He never claimed he would do so during the campaign, because it would have been a pledge he would not be able to implement legally.

    I hope that Wolf will also significantly rachet up the regulations on drilling, such as methane emissions from drilling and fracking waste disposal, as well as beef up enforcement of drilling regulations to hold the polluters accountable when they violate the rules.

  5. interesting how hypocritical WOLF is. In June he had a petition to Corbett: His words “n 2010, a moratorium was placed on fracking in Pennsylvania public lands because an exhaustive scientific study concluded that further drilling would irreparably harm the state forests and parks.” How is it that the “irreparable harm” to forest and parks doesn’t seem to pertain to the people living in the shale fields that are being harmed. he is more interested in only “public land” not the private land of the tax payers? Not the health of the people who elected him? Not the fields where we grow our food? Not the children being exposed to this toxic air and water from this industry? Funny how campaign contributions can buy a governor and an entire cabinet!

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