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Four Walz cabinet members won't seek reappointment

Commissioners Jan Malcolm, John Harrington, Dr. Heather Mueller and Mark Phillips will step down from leading their respective agencies ahead of Walz's second term.
Credit: KARE
Minn. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Gov. Walz

ST PAUL, Minn. — Governor Tim Walz's government is headed for a slight shakeup after multiple cabinet members declined to seek reappointment to their leadership roles for his second term.

Gov. Walz announced Wednesday that four cabinet members, including Jan Malcolm and John Harrington, will step down from leading the Department of Health, Department of Public Safety, Department of Education and the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation.

Malcolm, who served as Commissioner of Health from 1999 to 2003 before being reappointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2018 and Walz in 2019, was one of the primary voices of the state's COVID-19 pandemic response.

For months, Malcolm held weekly and sometimes daily briefings on the state of COVID-19 infections and testing alongside then-Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann before she retired in Jan. 2022.

“Working with Governor Walz and his team to help Minnesota navigate the COVID-19 pandemic was the most challenging and meaningful work I’ve done in my career, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve,” Commissioner Malcolm said in a statement. “I am so proud to have done this work with my colleagues at the Minnesota Department of Health and our local public health partners, as well as our health care systems and community organizations, over the course of my career," she added.

Credit: AP
Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Department of Public Health Commissioner, provides an update on the state's response to COVID-19 during a news conference on Monday, April 20, 2020 in St. Paul, Minn. (Scott Takushi/Pioneer Press via AP, Pool)

Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington, Commissioner of Education Dr. Heather Mueller, and Commissioner of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Mark Phillips also did not seek reappointment during Walz's second term.

According to the governor's office, Harrington led the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to recognize cancer as a potential cause of death in the line of duty for emergency responders and "oversaw significant police reform initiatives" during his 45 years in government service.

In a statement, Walz thanked Mueller for her "continued focus on helping all Minnesota students have access to a world-class education," and celebrated Phillips' 35 years of "leadership in business, community, and workforce development."

“I’m grateful to our entire cabinet for their years of service to Minnesota,” Walz said. “Together, we made historic investments in education, achieved the lowest unemployment rate of any state in history, and protected the health and safety of Minnesotans. I look forward to building the team that will help us kick off our second term.”

Sixteen cabinet members were reappointed to serve with Walz in his next term, including the commissioners of commerce, corrections, human services and veterans affairs.

There are now six leaderships positions open in Walz's cabinet heading into his second term with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan:

  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health
  • Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation
  • Department of Labor and Industry
  • Department of Public Safety
  • Department of Revenue

Applicants interested in applying for any other roles can email gov.appointments@state.mn.us to request an application or call 651-201-3400 with questions.

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