The 40-year-old Republican from Starkville has headed the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Council, a multi-state organization focused on the interconnections of transportation corridors like the waterway with economic growth and prosperity.
The three-member Transportation Commission is known to many Mississippians by its former name - the "highway commission" - but it needs to become in action and outlook much more, and Tagert holds that view.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Mississippi Transportation Commission both need to intentionally and more closely align their planning and action with the Mississippi Development Authority and other development agencies so that transportation investment is comprehensively and effectively networked and maximized for prosperity, not politics.
Tagert, in interviews with the Daily Journal during the campaign, stressed the necessity of making highways more than connectors of points on a map - building them to maximize economic development opportunities and needs.
His broad experience with the Tenn-Tom job brought significant contact and work with officials and elected leaders in other states, a relational and professional asset in an economy that's thoroughly interstate and international across modes of transport. He noted, in an interview with the Journal, his previous work with leaders in Alabama, including U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, ranking Republican on the Transportation appropriations subcommittee in the U.S. Senate.
Tagert will fill out the term of the late Commissioner Bill Minor, who died in late 2010. In the 11 months remaining Tagert must make the most of a challenging time for state investment in transportation. We hope work with legislators and Gov. Barbour in shaping the larger transportation picture for Mississippi will include discussions about funding innovations and making certain projects set in law are undertaken on time.
MDOT Executive Director Larry "Butch" Brown has said he will retire in June. Brown has been controversial, a source of division and distraction. Tagert can play a lead role in hiring and sending for Senate confirmation a new director who is fully focused on making the most of MDOT's financial and professional resources and turning the spotlight of notoriety off the position, which must be about policy and administration, not politics.