Former NC commerce, environmental secretary John Skvarla dies
Skvarla led North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Commerce during former Gov. Pat McCrory's tenure.Posted — Updated
Skvarla was chief executive of environmental restoration and mitigation company Restoration Systems before serving as former Gov. Pat McCrory’s secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from 2013 to 2015.
McCrory, who confirmed his former cabinet secretary’s passing, said he spoke over the phone with Skvarla two weeks ago and spoke with Skvarla’s wife on Tuesday. Skvarla was put in hospice on Monday and died of cancer, McCrory said.
“He walked right into a crisis and dealt with a tremendous amount of urgency and leadership,” McCrory said in an interview.
The 2016 measure that was signed by McCrory required people to use the restroom of the gender assigned at their birth at public schools and government buildings. It prompted several organizations to cancel big events or major expansions in the state.
“He was always professional,” McCrory said. “He never got into name-calling. He was extremely nonpolitical in his job. There was no better salesman in the state.”
After his time in state government, Skvarla joined the Nexsen Pruet law firm, where he focused in part on corporate law and helped with economic development deals.
McCrory said he’ll remember how, early into his administration, Skvarla suggested that some divisions in his department would be better suited under the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. He also shared how the former secretary gave up office space and was selfless in his dealings with others, remembering him as someone who would easily “give up power for what’s the right thing to do.”
McCrory also said he’ll remember Skvarla’s skills on the golf course and a conversation the two recently had.
“I was fortunate to get to talk to him two weeks ago,” McCrory said. “I just told him I love him and he made a difference for our state, a very positive difference for our state. He was just a damn good role model for everybody.”
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