Nov 17, 2022 - Politics

Four key Minnesota commissioners are stepping down

commissioner jan malcolm

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Four state agency heads — including the face of the state's pandemic response — are leaving the Walz administration.

Driving the news: Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that Health commissioner Jan Malcolm and Public Safety commissioner John Harrington are not seeking reappointment for his second term.

  • Malcolm — who served in the role under two previous governors — directed Minnesota's COVID-19 response. Harrington — a veteran of law enforcement and government — was at the helm during and after George Floyd's murder.

Yes, and: Department of Education commissioner Heather Mueller, who faced scrutiny and calls by Republicans to resign over the Feeding Our Future scandal, and Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation commissioner Mark Phillips are also stepping down.

Why it matters: Walz will need to appoint new commissioners to help set the policies and political tone for his second term.

  • Previously announced vacancies at the Department of Labor and Industry and the Department of Revenue mean one quarter of the governor's cabinet positions will be filled by new faces next year.

The intrigue: Walz's previous picks occurred against the backdrop of a GOP-led Senate, which used its confirmation authority to reject several of his appointees.

  • The new DFL-controlled Senate is seen as more likely to approve his nominations, though a narrow majority means the margins could be tight.

Be smart: Turnover isn't unusual for governors who serve more than one term, notes Brian Bakst of MPR News.


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