Yesterday, Governor-elect Tim Walz (DFL) and Lt Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan (DFL) announce the seven most recent selections for cabinet members to fill Agriculture, Natural Resources, Pollution Control, Health, Human Services, Mediation Services, and Human Rights. The selection included one sitting state Senator Tony Lourey (DFL-11, Kerrick) as Commissioner of Human Services, which is a keen interest for Lourey. When in the DFL last held Majority, he was the Chair of the Finance Subcommittee: Health and Human Services Budget Division. His selection will result in the need for a Special Election to be called by Walz after his installation. This confirms what we wrote back in December.
Walz made a solid selection is choosing Thom Peterson to lead the Department of Agriculture. As a lobbyist for the Minnesota Farmers Union, Peterson knows the issues facing the farming community and industry. He also is a bit of a showman himself, because for the last 25 years he has been at the Minnesota State Fair riding in a small cart drawn by a miniature horse.
Tactically, it is also a wise selection because Peterson’s wife Alana is the Chief of Staff for US Senator Tina Smith (DFL-MN).
There was a strong sentiment around the Capitol of a need for housecleaning at the DNR and the choice of Sarah Strommen, a woman to head this agency for the first time in its history is a clear decision to do so. Granted, she has been an assistant commissioner since 2015, with oversight of the divisions of fish and wildlife and parks and trails. Her experience may foster a new emphasis for the DNR.
Laura Bishop will head the Pollution Control Agency. She is a former lobbyist for Best Buy, who most recently led sustainability and corporate responsibility efforts and has experience in both state and federal government and bring this experience into the PCA as it discerns its role the state.
Walz retains Jan Malcolm as Health Commissioner and continues her tenure starts with Governor Jesse Ventura (IP-MN) and the reconstituted with Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN)
The Governor-elect selected Janet L Johnson to lead the Bureau of Mediation Services has worked at the Bureau for over 40 years. She started her work as a court reporter. She too will be the first woman to lead her Department.
Rebecca Lucero, comes into the public sector to head the Human Rights Department. She currently is the public policy director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. She also has toiled for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and is a board member of Gender Justice.