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Nominating council picks 16 candidates to interview for PSC, including Patronis

The legislatively-dominated committee assigned to nominate six candidates to the Public Service Commission narrowed its list of candidates from 32 to 16 on Thursday, preserving the chance for a term-limited legislator who runs a Panama City restaurant to get the high-profile job.

The PSC Nominating Council will interview the 16 candidates and then decide who to select to send to the governor to fill a post vacated by outgoing PSC Commissioner Eduardo Balbis and the post held by Commissioner Julie Imanuel Brown, who is seeking a second term. Gov. Rick Scott will then choose from the list.

Balbis surprised observers when he announced in May he would not seek a second term after being appointed to the post by former Gov. Charlie Crist. The vacancy occurred after legislators sided with electric companies in 2010 to oust two of Crist's appointees who rejected controversial rate increases sought by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy, now known as Duke Energy Florida.  Download Balbis Nominating Council Letter

The PSC is an agency that reports to and is funded by the Legislature. The five commissioners are appointed by the governor and serve four-year staggered term. 

The final list includes Rep. Jimmy Patronis, a Republican from Panama City who runs the popular Captain Anderson's restaurant in Panama City which is owned by his family. Patronis holds a degree in political science and communication from Florida State University and lists no utility-related experience in his resume. He did, however, surprise some observers when he announced earlier this year that he was dropping out of the 2016 state Senate race to replace Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, leaving Gaetz's son, Matt Gaetz, the frontrunner in the race.

In 2010, the Senate narrowly voted to oust Crist's appointees David Klement, the former editorial page editor of the Bradenton Herald, and Benjamin "Steve" Stevens, the former accountant for the Escambia County sheriff. The primary reason given for rejecting the candidates was that they were not qualified because they did not have regulatory or utility backgrounds and were both white men. 

Brown, the incumbent commissioner who was also appointed to the PSC by Scott in 2011, was chosen to be interviewed by the panel. Also on the finalist list is Marshall Willis, a former 38-year veteran of the PSC who fired without explanation as director of accounting and finance by PSC executive director Braulio Baez last spring. Another high profile candidate, Curt Kiser, a former state senator who is now the PSC's general counsel, had initially applied for the commissioner job but withdrew his application.

Here's the finalist list and their applications:

James Schilling Baumstark  Download (Redacted) Applicant 2 - James Schilling Baumstark (1)
Stephen Bart Fletcher  Download (Redacted) Applicant 4 - Stephen Bart Fletcher (2)
Philip L. Leary  Download (Redacted) Applicant 7 - Philip L. Leary, AICP
Julie Imanuel Brown  Download (Redacted) Applicant 11 - Julie Imanuel Brown
Robert Natale Santoni, Sr.  Download (Redaction Not Needed) Applicant 12 - Robert Natale Santoni, Sr
Marshall Wayne Willis  Download (Redacted) Applicant 16 - Marshall Wayne Willis
Norman Bruce Doueck  Download (Redacted) Applicant 19 - Norman Bruce Doueck
David J. Murzin  Download (Redacted) Applicant 20 - David J. Murzin
Gerardo B. (Jerry) Fernandez  Download (Redacted) Applicant 25 - Gerardo B. (Jerry) Fernandez
Astrida Trupovnieks  Download (Redacted) Applicant 26 - Astrida Trupovnieks
Calvin Lynn Johnson  Download (Redaction Not Needed) Applicant 27 - Calvin Lynn Johnson
Stuart Wayne Pollins  Download (Redacted) Applicant 29 - Stuart Wayne Pollins
Kevin LeRoy Wiehle  Download (Redacted) Applicant 30 - Kevin LeRoy Wiehle
Patrick John Sheehan  Download (Redacted) Applicant 31 - Patrick John Sheehan
Luz Urbaez Weinberg  Download (Redacted) Applicant 32 - Luz Urbáez Weinberg
Rep. Jimmy T. Patronis, Jr.  Download (Redaction Not Needed) Applicant 33 - Jimmy T. Patronis, Jr.