New DelDOT secretary sworn in [video]

 Former Del. DMV Director Jennifer Cohan was sworn in as state's 10th secretary of transportation by Gov.Jack Markell. Cohan's husband Chris and daughter Brittany join her.(Paul Parmelee/WHYY)

Former Del. DMV Director Jennifer Cohan was sworn in as state's 10th secretary of transportation by Gov.Jack Markell. Cohan's husband Chris and daughter Brittany join her.(Paul Parmelee/WHYY)

Jennifer Cohan is now officially Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s newest cabinet member.

The former director of the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles was sworn in Tuesday as the 10th secretary of The Delaware Department of Transportation. 

“Jennifer’s vast knowledge of the department and its operations make her uniquely qualified to lead DelDOT as we tackle the financial challenges ahead and deliver an efficient, high quality transportation system to the residents of Delaware,” said Markell, who presided over the ceremony inside Delaware Dept. of Transportation’s administration building in Dover.

The 25-year state employee was tapped for the job last month after former DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt announced his resignation to head up Colorado’s transportation department. The Delaware state Senate unanimously confirmed Cohan as the new secretary last week.

“As I begin my time as secretary, I expect to bring innovations to our planning, funding and construction processes, and will continue the consistent use of data driven prioritization for DelDOT’s infrastructure choices,” said Cohan, who is the third woman to lead the state agency. “I am excited to share my ideas with DelDOT’s talented leadership while I work toward an equitable long-term solution to the revenue sources for the Transportation Trust Fund.”

Cohan said her goal is to focus on innovations as a way to improve service and make the department more efficient. 

She is turning a DelDOT employee vacancy to hire a director of innovation and technology. “If an engineer pitches a good idea, we can now implement those ideas,” she said.

Cohan said finding a solution for funding the transportation trust fund is key. She said she would support a gas tax as one possible funding idea.  “We can also look at DMV fees as another possible idea, but I’ve been getting some really creative ideas from legislators and the public that we’ll be looking at over the next couple of weeks,” Cohan said.

She went to say that over the past several months talking to legislators and the public and that she hadn’t found one person who didn’t think additional funding was needed. She said the key was to find a way to make the collection of additional revenue fair to everyone.

Cohan, 42, served as DMV director since 2007.  She started working at the Department of Motor Vehicles when she was 16 years old.  She began as a casual seasonal employee. Cohan said part of her appeal to Governor Markell to nominate her was the fact that she had lead several departments inside DelDot. She holds degrees in business management and public administration from Wilmington University. She lives in Dover with her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Brittany.

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