Minnesota Departments of Health, Public Safety and Education Get New Commissioners – KSTP | Team Cansler

Some of the leaders who have drawn the most criticism in recent years will soon be replaced.

Governor Tim Walz and Lt. gov. Peggy Flanagan announced Cabinet appointments and vacancies for her second term on Wednesday.

Notably, Minnesota Department of Health health commissioner Jan Malcolm, public safety commissioner John Harrington, education commissioner Heather Mueller, and Iron Range resources and rehabilitation commissioner Mark Phillips have chosen not to seek reappointment, the governor’s office says . In addition to these vacancies, the governor’s office is also seeking applicants for the Treasury Department and the Department of Labor and Industry, both of which have interim commissioners after the appointed commissioners left earlier this year.

Malcolm has been thrust into the state spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic. As she led MDH through testing, rolling out vaccines and expanding the system to monitor long-term care facilities, she also drew criticism from some for the state’s handling of the pandemic, and some Republican lawmakers even threatened to remove her from her position.

Malcolm also served as MDH commissioner from 1999 to 2003 before being reappointed by former Gov. Mark Dayton in 2018 and by Walz the following year. She was also previously an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, CEO of the Courage Center, president of the Courage Kenny Foundation, and vice president of public affairs and philanthropy at Allina Health.

FILE – MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm speaks during a news conference on December 14, 2021. (KSTP-TV)

“Working with Gov. Walz and his team to help Minnesota navigate the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most challenging and meaningful work I have done in my career and I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve” , Malcolm said in a statement. “Public health at its best has the power to save lives and strengthen communities, and this is not the work of one individual or one organization. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of unsung public health heroes in federal, state, and local health agencies who are building better, healthier futures for their neighbors and their communities. I am so proud to have done this work throughout my career with my colleagues at the Minnesota Department of Health and our local public health partners, as well as our health systems and community organizations. I know they will continue the vital work to protect, preserve and improve the health of all Minnesotans.”

Mueller also came under criticism during the pandemic as the state switched to distance learning and hybrid models. After indicting dozens of people at the federal level over the massive Feeding Our Future fraud scheme, she again became a source of criticism, with some Republican lawmakers calling for her resignation.

Prior to her appointment, Mueller served as Senior Director of Teaching and Learning for the Department of Education, Assistant Commissioner, and Deputy Commissioner. She also previously worked for Mankato Area Public Schools, where Walz also previously taught.

“I am honored and humbled to have been asked to serve alongside the governor and lieutenant governor, especially at such a turbulent time for our public schools. From launching Due North to passing on historic investments in public education to helping our schools navigate a global pandemic, I’m grateful for everything and proud of the work we’ve done together,” said Mueller. “As this term comes to an end, I feel like this is the perfect opportunity for me to close this chapter of my life.”

FILE – MDE Commissioner Heather Mueller speaks during a news conference October 27, 2021. (KSTP-TV)

Harrington, meanwhile, has been in the spotlight of the state’s response to riots following George Floyd’s death and the rise in violent crime in the Twin Cities this year. He was previously the chief of police for Metro Transit and the St. Paul Police and has spent 35 years in law enforcement. He also served as a state senator from 2010 to 2012 and served on the faculty of Metropolitan State, St. Mary’s and the University of St. Thomas.

“I thank Gov. Walz for giving me the opportunity to serve as the 14th commissioner of public safety and the opportunity not only to be his adviser on public safety and homeland security, but also to be the head of this great department ‘ Harrington said. “I also thank all members of the department — whether they work in victim services, EMS, law enforcement, or driver and vehicle services, they are the true backbone of the department that makes it possible to get all the work done.”

FILE – DPS Commissioner John Harrington speaks during a news conference on February 23, 2021. (KSTP-TV)

Phillips led IRRR under Dayton and Walz and has been involved in business, community and people development for more than 35 years.

“It has been my privilege and honor to serve as the representative of the Walz-Flanagan administration in northeast Minnesota,” Phillips said. “Whether it’s expanding childcare, improving broadband access, improving inner cities, strengthening education or improving outdoor recreation, I’m proud of the work we’ve done to make the region stronger and better positioned for the future. “

These four will all remain in service through the end of the year.

Walz has also reappointed the other members of his cabinet, including Administration Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis, Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, Trade Commissioner Grace Arnold, Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell, Commissioner for Employment and Economic Development Steve Grove, Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson, Housing Commissioner Jennifer Leimaile Ho, Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero , Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead, Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, Information Technology Services Commissioner Tarek Tomes, Mediation Services Commissioner Johnny Villarreal, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen, Pollution Control Commissioner Katrina Kessler, Nancy Daubenberger, Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, and Larry Herke, Commissioner of Veterans Affairs.

Anyone wishing to apply can contact gov.appointments@state.mn.us to request an application, which is then due by 4:00 p.m. on November 30.

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