Former state roads chief Zelle to run Met Council

A man speaks, standing in front of a banner saying "The future of transportation."
Former Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle has been selected to be the board chair of the Met Council.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2017

Former Minnesota transportation commissioner Charlie Zelle will take charge of the Metropolitan Council in January following an appointment Monday from Gov. Tim Walz.

Zelle, 64, will chair the board in charge of Twin Cities mass transit and regional growth planning. He fills the position left open by the resignation of Met Council Chair Nora Slawik.

“Charlie understands the challenges and the opportunities currently facing the metropolitan region,” Walz said in a news release.

The Met Council, a 17-member appointed board with a lot of authority, has faced scrutiny from lawmakers over its decisionmaking and spending. It is currently deeply immersed in the Southwest light rail line construction.

Zelle was the transportation commissioner for six years under Gov. Mark Dayton. He is chairman of Jefferson Lines, a charter and passenger-route bus company that has been in his family for almost a century.

“I am committed to applying my private and public sector experiences to help achieve the vision of a prosperous region — for everyone,” Zelle said in a written statement.

The chair position is a full-time role and considered part of the governor’s cabinet.

The council employs more than 4,000 people and has an annual budget above $1 billion.

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