Governor-elect Doug Burgum sailed to a landslide Republican primary victory over Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem by campaigning against the status quo in Bismarck.
Burgum’s campaign railed against the “good old boys club” and promised a shakeup, and it worked. He won the primary with nearly 60 percent of the vote on his way to a general election victory with over 76 percent of the vote.
But just days away from officially taking office Governor-elect Burgum has announced that he’ll be keeping most of Governor Jack Dalrymple’s cabinet in place. Of the 17 positions in the cabinet, Burgum is changing six of them.
He announced the move in a press release today, which you can read in full below.
Here are the cabinet positions he’s keeping:
- Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Leann Bertsch
- Indian Affairs Commission Executive Director Scott Davis
- Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard
- Department of Financial Institutions Commissioner Robert Entringer
- Col. Michael Gerhart Jr., superintendent of the North Dakota Highway Patrol
- Job Service North Dakota Executive Director Cheri Giesen
- Workforce Safety and Insurance Director Bryan Klipfel
- Department of Transportation Director Grant Levi
- Office of Management and Budget Director Pam Sharp
- Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand
- Securities Department Director Karen Tyler
Here are the changes, per the press release:
- Department of Human Services Executive Director Maggie Anderson will remain as Medical Services director — overseeing critical areas including Medicaid and Medicaid expansion — and serve as interim executive director until a new director is named. Anderson joined DHS in 2003 and was interim director from August 2012 until Gov. Jack Dalrymple appointed her to lead the agency in April 2013.
- Chief Information Officer Mike Ressler has decided to enter the private sector after a 32-year career in the Information Technology Department. Ressler has led ITD since Dalrymple appointed him in October 2013. Burgum appreciates Ressler’s contributions to enhancing the state’s technology and wishes him well. Dan Sipes, director of operations and deputy chief information officer since October 2013, will serve as interim CIO until the post is filled.
- In the Department of Health, Deputy State Health Officer Arvy Smith and Environmental Health Section Chief Dave Glatt will lead the department as co-interim directors until a new state health officer is named. Current State Health Officer Terry Dwelle will retire after 15 years in the post, having been appointed by then-Gov. John Hoeven in October 2001. Prior to that, he served as the department’s chief medical officer. Burgum is grateful for Dr. Dwelle’s longtime commitment to improving public health.
- In the Parks and Recreation Department, Field Manager Jesse Hanson will assume interim director duties until a permanent director is named. Burgum thanks outgoing Director Mark Zimmerman for his leadership since being appointed by Hoeven in April 2010. Zimmerman, who plans to pursue other opportunities, previously served 10 years as outdoor recreation specialist for the state tourism division. Burgum commends Zimmerman for his significant role in enhancing outdoor recreation in North Dakota.
- Burgum also thanks Commerce Commissioner Alan Anderson, who is retiring Dec. 31 after more than five years in the post. Anderson has generously offered to make his expertise available as needed through January as the search continues for his successor. Burgum offers his gratitude for Anderson’s outstanding leadership of efforts to strengthen North Dakota’s economy and promote the state.
Perhaps the most notable name on this list is that of Maggie Anderson who is being replaced at DHS but will maintain a job in the department. Criminal charges against Anderson related to the drowning death of a little girl in Velva were dropped earlier this year, but shortly thereafter an ugly audit shed light on what might fairly be called lax oversight of the state’s day cares by DHS.
“The Department of Human Services is not properly monitoring or suspending providers and notifying parents after confirmed knowledge of activities that jeopardize the health and safety of children,” the audit stated.
Anyway, outside of Anderson, I don’t really see anything all that worthy of criticism in these choices. I’m not saying that Burgum necessarily has to clear the decks in the cabinet to keep his promise to challenge the “good old boys club.”
It just seems odd that someone who campaigned on changing things in Bismarck would start out his administration by changing so little.
It makes me kind of feel like maybe the “good old boys club” thing – which we’ve heard very little of from Burgum since June – was just so much campaign posturing.
Here’s the full press release from Burgum:
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