12. Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly, a member of Gov. Brown’s cabinet and California’s Secretary of Transportation, is Brown’s guy on everything transportation, including his controversial, $64 billion high-speed rail project that is underway but has been riddled with conflict from the start. Kelly, Brown’s point person on transportation negotiations, savored a huge victory this year: The passage of the hotly contested SB 1, which will provide $52 billion for transportation projects — including public transit, local roads, pothole repairs and bike trails – through increases in fuel taxes. Kelly also oversees Caltrans – the huge state agency in charge of the Bay Bridge and the thousands of miles of state roads and highways. Kelly was fresh out of college when he began working for the Democratic Caucus in 1994; he was only there a year before he moved on to serving as a legislative staffer for the next four Senate leaders. He was known for having a broad policy portfolio when he left the Legislature after 17 years to join Brown’s administration.
Updated Aug. 29, 2017