JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon's appointment of David Kerr as the state's new economic development director brought mixed reactions from state Republican leaders Tuesday.
The announcement came after Nixon's original choice for the position, Linda Martinez, stepped down in September. She resigned suddenly last month and wrote a letter to the governor expressing frustration over cooperation. Since then, Katie Steele Danner served as the interim director.
"David Kerr has an impressive resume of success as both the leader of a state economic development agency and in the private sector as a top executive with one of the largest telecommunications companies in the country, " the governor said in a press release. "His experience will be a great asset to Missouri in the competition to attract and retain the good-paying jobs that will make the best use of our highly skilled, trained workforces."
In a press release, the Missouri GOP blamed Nixon's "petty personal conflicts" for a lack of leadership in the Economic Development Department.
"The economy is sputtering, the number of Missourians without work continues to climb, and job opportunities have been lost because Jay Nixon has put politics in front of people. It is time for Nixon to finally get serious about creating jobs and putting Missourians back to work," said Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party.
GOP spokesman Jonathon Prouty said he hoped this economic development director could work more closely with Nixon. "At the end of the day, my hope is that he can at least get the attention of this governor -- that jobs are important to average Missouri families," he said. "He looks like he has some good credentials."
Senate Republican leader Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, said in the governor's press release, "I look forward to Director Kerr being an important part of the bipartisan effort by Gov. Nixon and the General Assembly to build a robust economic climate in Missouri."
Kerr comes to the state from the Kansas Commerce Department where he has served as the department's director since 2007. The governor's communication director, Jack Cardetti, said Nixon crossed state lines for a new director simply "because he's the right man for the job."
Prior to taking the post of director, Kerr worked for AT&T, holding various executive management positions in Missouri, Kansas and Texas.
Kerr will begin the job on Nov. 9, but must be confirmed by the state senate when the Legislature returns to session next year.
Missouri legislative leadership, both Democratic and Republican, declined or were unavailable for comment.