The Ben Franklin Transit board selected former Pennsylvania transit leader Dennis Solensky to be the agency's new general manager after an hour-and-a-half closed session Thursday night.
Solensky was executive director of the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority from 2001 until late last year. He increased ridership there after decades of declining numbers, while forging partnerships with local colleges and other entities, he said.
Solensky, who has a masters of business administration degree from Pennsylvania State University, previously led two smaller transit systems in Ohio.
"I'm flattered," Solensky told the Herald. "It's a tremendous organization."
The board will enter contract negotiations with Solensky. Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins, chairman of the transit board, said a special meeting could be called as early as next week to finalize an agreement.
"Mr. Solensky has roll-up-the-sleeves experience in a lot of different jobs in transit," Watkins said. "He's going to cast a fresh eye on a lot of things."
Solensky was chosen over Bill Forsythe of Valley View, Texas. He appears to have the ability to relate to employees from bus drivers to senior management, said Benton County Commissioner Jerome Delvin.
The job was advertised as paying between $85,000 and $144,000. Former general manager Tim Fredrickson, who resigned in December, earned $121,092 annually.
The two were the finalists from 87 people who applied to replace Fredrickson.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543