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State Transportation Chief Hired As New CEO of OCTA

Will Kempton, a 35-year industry veteran, will take over the reins Aug. 3

ORANGE – Will Kempton, head of the California Department of Transportation for the past five years, was hired today to become the new chief executive officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority.Kempton, who is expected to begin Aug. 3, brings to OCTA a broad understanding of transportation programs and policies that span the ranks of government from the local to the federal level. His expertise will ensure Orange County remains a leader in providing transportation solutions for the residents of Orange County.

“This is a very challenging time for every public agency in California. Finding a new CEO for OCTA with Will Kempton’s transportation knowledge and experience at a time like this is a grand-slam home run for us and for everyone in Orange County,” said OCTA Chairman Peter Buffa. “Will is one of the most respected leaders in transportation in the country, with a rock-solid reputation that will serve us well. We are very excited about having him join the OCTA team.”

A 35-year veteran of the transportation industry, Kempton was appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2004 to run Caltrans and oversee 50,000 lane miles of state highways, an annual budget of nearly $14 billion and $10 billion worth of transportation improvements under construction.

Kempton will remain at his Caltrans post until July 31. OCTA’s new chief executive has a long history of public service. Prior to joining Caltrans, Kempton served as assistant city manager for the city of  Folsom. Before that he served on the city’s park and recreations commission for eight years.

“I’m exceptionally proud of what Caltrans has accomplished over the past five years and  it’s been an honor to serve the people of California under the leadership of Gov. Schwarzenegger,” said Kempton. “During my tenure at Caltrans, I have worked in partnership with OCTA many times and I am looking forward to the opportunity to join an agency that is on the leading edge of transportation innovation.” 

Kempton began his career at Caltrans in 1973. He held management positions in finance and the director’s office at Caltrans prior to being appointed as assistant director in charge of legislative and congressional affairs, a position he held from 1980 to 1985. From 1985 to 1992, Kempton served as executive director of the Santa Clara County Traffic Authority. From 1992 to 2002, he was a partner at Smith, Kempton & Watts, a transportation consulting and advocacy firm that focused on major infrastructure programs.

Kempton, who expects to move to Orange County, currently resides in Folsom with his wife Beverley.

Kempton is replacing Art Leahy, who left in March to head the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority