Mobile County License Commissioner Kim Hastie is ready to put her legal troubles behind her and assume the role of revenue commissioner — a position she ran for unopposed and won in 2014.
Though her original plan for the office was to merge it with the License Commission, Hastie said she’s now looking forward to getting into the new role and working to make it as efficient as possible.
Taking Hastie’s place at the license commission will be Ret. Col. Dominick (Nick) Matranga, whose was appointed above four other candidates by Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday. Like Hastie, Matranga will be sworn into office on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the start of the county’s next fiscal year.Matranga will receive the same $85,000 salary Hastie did, while Hastie will see a slight bump in pay, moving up to $90,000 per year as revenue commissioner.
“I’m very excited for Nick. He has been a supporter of mine and I’m a supporter of his,” Hastie said. “I knew he was trying to get that position, and I have confidence he will continue the path that we started at the license commission.”
Hastie has made a name for herself under her original campaign promise of “10 Minutes Tags,” a promise she fulfilled after taking over the license commission in 2008. As he prepares to move into the role, Matranga said he doesn’t plan to change a thing.
“I want to provide the same leadership and continuity she’s provided the last four to five years since she turned the license commission around,” Matranga said. “You’d be a fool to try and change what she started in that office. She’s established a great benchmark I can work from, and I’ll still be able to consult with her.”
Hastie concurred, saying that she’d do “anything to help (Matranga)” during the transition and during his time in office.
Matranga, a Mobile native and graduate of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, said he’s prepared for the new task because of the managerial experience he gained during his 31-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps.
As a colonel, Matranga said he was tasked with overseeing the budget and operations of multiple squadrons, each larger than the staff at the Mobile County License Commission.
“One of the main things you learn running organizations like this is that morale is contingent on people doing their job right and having the right tools to do that,” he added. “When employees feel efficient, they project that to the customer. When people do that, morale goes up.”
Though Matranga will be a new face at the license commission office on Michael Boulevard, he’s no stranger to Mobile County politics. In recent years, he’s launched two unsuccessful political campaigns of his own — one in 2013 for the seat in Senate District 35 and another in 2012 aimed at the District 3 seat on the Mobile County Commission.
Despite some close numbers, Matranga ultimately lost both of those elections to Sen. Bill Hightower and Commissioner Jerry Carl, respectively. However, Matranga said those experiences helped build his relationship with Hastie while he was working in the Mobile County Republican Party.
Now that he’s been appointed to the license commission, Matranga said he plans to run for election in 2016 in hopes of retaining the position. He’ll have through October to qualify in order to run for reelection during the Republican primary in March 2016.
Matranga also said he would support a plan to merge his new office with Hastie’s revenue commission if a proposal to do so comes up again through the state legislature.
Hastie attempted to have a bill passed with a similar outcome in 2014, a move that ultimately led to several criminal charges she was acquitted of in June. According to a study Hastie commissioned, that merger could have potentially saved Mobile County more than $1 million per year.
“What they worked out as far as saving the county money, I’m all for that, but it’s really a legislative issue,” Matranga said. “But, I certainly would support it. The purpose of getting this position is not for me to have a career, it’s to provide a service, and if we can do that better, I’ll alway support that.”
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