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Tom Sorel resigns as MnDOT commissioner, will head local AAA

Sorel is the second state commissioner to leave in the past two weeks; DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips left for the private sector, too.

Tom Sorel, who’s been commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, is leaving the post to become president and CEO of AAA in Minneapolis, the travel and road assistance organization.

Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed veteran transportation department official  Bernie Arseneau to serve as acting commissioner. Arseneau has been with the agency for nearly 30 years, most recently as deputy commissioner and chief engineer.

Sorel, who’d been appointed to the post in 2008 by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, was reappointed by Dayton when he took office last year.

He is the second state commissioner to resign in the past two weeks. Mark Phillips resigned in mid-October, and has returned to his old job with the Kraus-Anderson Construction Company.

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The timing of the two high-level resignations is coincidental, said Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci.

Sorel had been looking for a new job for some time, and last summer was a finalist for a vice-president of University Services at the University of Minnesota.

Sorel said today in a statement:

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the citizens of Minnesota as MnDOT Commissioner for the past four years.  MnDOT is a great organization supported by exemplary public servants who I will miss tremendously. My thanks go to Governor Dayton, who reappointed me as Commissioner, and the legislative transportation committees that confirmed me. As I move into the next phase of my life’s journey, I will always cherish my time serving as MnDOT Commissioner.”

Dayton praised Sorel, saying:

“Tom Sorel has served the State of Minnesota with excellence, and I thank him for his dedicated public service to the people of Minnesota. Tom’s strong leadership, depth of knowledge, and decades of experience will serve him well in this new venture. I wish him well as he takes on this new role.”