Bush picks a top aide to run DCA

Colleen Castille, right, new Secretary of the Florida Dept. of Community Affairs, fields questions from reporters at a news conference, Thursday in Tallahassee. Gov. Jeb Bush, center, hugs Coleen's mother, Marie Castille, left.

The Associated Press
Published: Friday, January 3, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 10:43 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush picked one of his top aides Thursday to lead the Department of Community Affairs - a position that would disappear under a reorganization plan Bush plans to give the Legislature.
Bush named Cabinet Affairs Director Colleen Castille to head the department, which would be merged with the Department of State under a proposal Bush will release before the Legislature begins its session in March.
But Bush said Castille will still play a role overseeing growth management, handled by Community Affairs, under the new department.
"I'm not sure how long Colleen will be the secretary of the Department of Community Affairs - a lot of that will depend on the Legislature - but she will be actively engaged in the next term whether it's in that job or some other," Bush said. "She is one of the great stars in public service."
Castille, 43, will work with newly appointed Secretary of State Glenda Hood to merge the departments. The Department of Community Affairs handles growth management, low-income housing and emergency management.
Castille, who will replace Steve Seibert, was the chief Cabinet aide to Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan when he served as education commissioner. She was named Bush's Cabinet Affairs director four years ago.
"She's taught me everything I need to know about the Cabinet system, which, to be honest with you, when I showed up here I had no clue about," Bush said.
Bush said Castille has played a large role in the state's work with the federal government on plans to restore the Everglades and has led the state's efforts to protect manatees.
"She has been one of my most trusted advisers as it relates to conservation and environmental programs," Bush said.
Castille said she looks forward to implementing a new growth management law which forces local officials to consider schools and water supplies when approving development plans.
"Environment was my passion, it still is my passion," Castille said. "Growth management is an important issue in our state. It's critical for the economic development in our state."
She also said better planning is needed so parents don't spend "an hour-and-half to drive across town and pick up the kids at school," leaving them with less time to spend together as families.
Bush said growth management will remain a priority for the state.
"No amount of changing the boxes in an organizational chart is going to change that," Bush said. "The only mandate that I've given to both Secretary Hood and Secretary Castille is that we not diminish the importance of growth management."
Eric Draper, a lobbyist for Audubon of Florida, praised Bush's choice.
"I bet she'll transform DCA into more of an environmental oversight agency than it was before," Draper said.
"She's a strong leader and she is an accessible person," Draper said. "She's one of those people who can take a lot of information in, then sort of condense it and get to the most important point."
Castille will earn $107,000, a raise of more than $21,000 over her current position.
Seibert, 46, a land-use lawyer from the Tampa Bay area, said he decided to resign so he could spend more time with his family.
"I have this precious 5-year-old and this is a job that involves a lot of travel," he said following his resignation. "It's a very intense job and I really truly wanted to make sure I wasn't missing any of these critical years."

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