TALLAHASSEE — The list of applicants to replace the two ousted members of the Public Service Commission includes a term-limited state senator, two state representatives, the current general counsel of the PSC and a former commissioner.
They are among 61 names sent to the PSC Nominating Council by its deadline Monday as it moves to fill the positions of former Commissioners David Klement and Benjamin "Steve'' Stevens.
The process required some fancy footwork for state Sen. Lee Constantine, an Altamonte Springs Republican who is chairman of the nominating council that recommends applicants to the commission. Constantine resigned from the council Monday and instead said he'll apply for the PSC himself.
"I believe I know the issues. I believe I'm passionate about the issues and I'm a consensus builder," said Constantine, a former chairman of the Senate environmental committee who will be term limited out this year.
Also among the applicants: Rep. Rob Schenck, a Spring Hill Republican; Rep. Ron Brise, a Miami Democrat; PSC general counsel and former state Sen. Curt Kiser; former PSC executive director Mary Bane, who retired from the commission in December; and former Commissioner Leon Jacobs.
Klement and Stevens were rejected by the state Senate in the final week of the legislative session. The most common reason given by senators was that Klement, a former editorial page editor for the Bradenton Herald, and Stevens, the former finance director for the Escambia County sheriff, were underqualified for the job or were not African-American.
The two men were appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist, who said he wanted "fresh blood" on the panel that had come under fire for allowing some staff members to get too close to the utilities they regulate. The two had replaced Commissioners Katrina McMurrian and Matthew Carter, who is African-American.
Kiser, a former Palm Harbor state senator, was named PSC general counsel in November amid the turmoil. He, like Constantine, is a former chairman of the nominating council that recommends applicants to the job. Kiser served on the council for 17 years.
Bane was executive director of the PSC during the turmoil and her leadership was strongly criticized by Commissioner Nathan Skop. Jacobs was appointed to the PSC by former Gov. Lawton Chiles.
The council will meet June 1 to decide which applicants to interview, and after the interviews it must send three names for each position to Crist.