Who's running Missouri now? A brief look at Greitens' Cabinet picks to date | St. Louis Public Radio

Who's running Missouri now? A brief look at Greitens' Cabinet picks to date

Jun 5, 2017

Updated June 6 to correct that the Department of Mental Health's director is appointed by a commission. Original story from Feb. 22, 2017:

With new administrations come new agency directors, and it’s up to the governor to choose those people. Most of  Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ Cabinet positions have been approved by the Missouri Senate, while three still must be vetted.

Here’s a who’s who behind the major state agencies:

SARAH STEELMAN, commissioner
Office of Administration

Age and hometown  58; Rolla
Appointed  Jan. 6, 2017 | Has been confirmed by Senate
Formerly  State senator, 1999-2005; treasurer, 2005-2009

Steelman was a key Greitens supporter during his campaign, and along with her husband, David Steelman, was part of the transition team leading up to the inauguration.

“During my time as a state senator and then Missouri state treasurer, it was a priority of mine to identify ways to help government be more responsive and accountable to taxpayers,” Steelman said in a written response to St. Louis Public Radio’s interview request; she declined a full interview. “I still feel very strongly about finding the most effective use for taxpayer dollars, and I will carry those priorities with me in my role as commissioner.”

Steelman said she and her staff are “uniquely positioned to give input and guidance” to other executive branches.

CHRIS CHINN, director
Department of Agriculture

Age and hometown  41; Clarence, Missouri
Appointed  Dec. 27, 2017 | Has been confirmed by Senate
Formerly  National spokeswoman for the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance; member of the Missouri Farm Bureau Board of Directors since 2010

Chinn is from rural northeastern Missouri, where she and her husband raise “hogs, cattle, corn, soybeans, and hay,” according to a December news release. She has regularly traveled around the U.S. speaking “in defense” of family-owned farms.

“I want to focus on bringing that next generation back home to the family farm or ranch,” she said. “(To accomplish that), there are some basic needs, like rural broadband. That’s something that we need today in agriculture; we’re using more and more technology every day.”

Chinn also said she wants to bridge Missouri’s urban-rural divide.

“I want to be in the urban areas more; I want to help them understand what things are in agriculture, what certain terms mean, how we produce food, (and) the activities that go on on a farm and ranch,” she said. “If they have urban gardens, I think it’s a great opportunity for us to bring farmers and ranchers in to help share their stories and offer their expertise on how to help people in the urban areas start their urban gardens.”

ANNE PRECYTHE, director
Department of Corrections

Age and hometown  51; High Point, North Carolina
Appointed  Dec. 21, 2016 | Has been confirmed by Senate
Formerly  Director of North Carolina’s Division of Community Correction, March 2013-December 2016 (oversaw the state’s prison system); administrator with North Carolina Department of Corrections, 2006-2012; former probation and parole officer

Precythe is a native of North Carolina and was the first of Greitens’ Cabinet picks. She recently appeared before a Missouri House committee that’s investigating claims of harassment and retaliation against corrections employees by supervisors and co-workers, and pledged to overhaul the agency.

“I’m in the process of looking at the entire culture of Corrections, within our institutions, within the community, how we do business, how we communicate with staff,” Precythe said. “I’m talking with staff, talking with management; I’m gathering all the information that I can so we can make the best decisions as we move forward.”

CAROL COMER, director
Department of Natural Resources

Age and hometown  50; Shelby County, Indiana
Appointed  Jan. 18, 2017 | Has been confirmed by Senate
Formerly  Commissioner, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, August 2015-January 2017; attorney specializing in environmental law

Comer worked under ex-Indiana governor and current Vice President Mike Pence. Both Politico and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report that Comer was a potential candidate to take over the federal Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump. That agency is now being led by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

“In Indiana … we partnered our Department of Economic Development with our Department of Environmental Management to create jobs and attract businesses and investment,” Comer said in a Facebook Live video with Greitens when her appointment was announced. “I’m looking forward to doing the same thing here in Missouri so that we can protect the air and the land and the water quality, but still encourage economic growth so that everybody prospers.”

CHARLES "DREW" JUDEN, director
Department of Public Safety

Age and hometown  59; Cape Girardeau
Appointed  Jan. 2, 2017 | Has been confirmed by Senate
Formerly  Public safety director for Sikeston

Juden oversaw both the police and fire departments in the southeastern Missouri city of Sikeston, and previously was division commander of the city’s police and fire departments. Juden has also served as a member of Missouri’s Homeland Security Council.

JOEL WALTERS, director
Department of Revenue

Age and hometown 58; Bloomington, Minnesota
Appointed Feb. 14, 2017 | Has been confirmed by the Senate
Formerly Senior executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers

There’s not much information about Walters. The news release announcing Walters’ appointment said he worked on U.S. tax practices and foreign business investment for PricewaterhouseCoopers’ New York office. Walters said in that release that he's looking forward to making sure Missouri has a tax system that will encourage businesses to move here.

 

CHLORA LINDELY-MYERS, director
Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration

Age and hometown 60; Fayetteville, Georgia
Appointed Feb. 14, 2017 | Has been confirmed by the Senate
Formerly Deputy commissioner, Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance; chief compliance officer of Examinations, Kentucky Department of Insurance; director of Consumer Protection and Anti-fraud Division, National Association of Insurance Commissioners in Kansas City office

Lindley-Myers is Greitens’ first African-American Cabinet member. Greitens had named John Rehagen as acting DIFP director, but it appears he was a placeholder leading up to Lindley-Myer’s nomination. Rehagen had been director since early 2014 under Nixon.

 

RANDALL WILLIAMS, director
Department of Health and Senior Services

Age and hometown 59; Burlington, North Carolina
Appointed Feb. 9, 2017 | Has been confirmed by the Senate
Formerly North Carolina state health director and deputy secretary for Health Services, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Williams was also surrounded by controversy in North Carolina over public testimony that he downplayed reports of coal ash contamination that polluted drinking water in wells located near power plants. He also ran for mayor of Raleigh in 2011, finishing a distant third. He is a licensed OB/GYN and practiced medicine in the Raleigh-Durham metro area.

 

Three appointees have not yet been confirmed by the Senate:

ROB DIXON, director
Department of Economic Development
Age and hometown 37; Florissant
Appointed June 2, 2017 (effective July 1) | Awaiting Senate confirmation
Formerly President and CEO, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce

Dixon spent nearly five years with the Chamber of Commerce, including two years as the president/CEO. Before that, he was with the Hollister Chamber of Commerce for two years. Dixon also served in the Marine Corps for five years, including deployment in Afghanistan.

"The people of Missouri need more jobs and higher pay,” Dixon said in a written statement. “We’re going to compete with every state in the country to win jobs for our people. I look forward to working with economic developers across the state to create one of the top business climates in the nation.”

STEVE CORSI, director 
Department of Social Services
Age and hometown Unclear
Appointed May 19, 2017 | Awaiting Senate confirmation
Formerly Director, Wyoming Department of Family Services

Corsi earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Utah in 2006. He’s also an Air Force veteran and an officer in the Wyoming Army National Guard.

"I share Gov. Greitens' passion for transforming the Department of Social Services to provide more safety and security to the most vulnerable in Missouri while also protecting taxpayer dollars,” Corsi said in a statement.

ANNA HUI, director 
Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
Age and hometown Unclear
Appointed March 30, 2017 | Awaiting Senate confirmation
Formerly Acting Director and Assistant Director, Illinois Department of Labor

Hui spent more than six years working as a policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., which was founded by TV host and televangelist Pat Robertson.

"I share Gov. Greitens' vision of reform to better serve workers, businesses, and taxpayers,” Hui said. “I thank him for this significant opportunity to lead the Department of Labor and look forward to working hard to promote the wellbeing of employees in Missouri."

  

There are five state agencies that are not part of the governor's Cabinet:

Missouri Department of Mental Health, overseen by the Mental Health Commission, which appoints a director. Mark Stringer has been in that role since July 2015. The commission has six members and one vacancy, while is expected to be filled by Greitens.  

Missouri Department of Conservation, overseen by the Missouri Conservation Commission. All four commissioners are appointed by the governor, though no more than two can be from the same political party. The term of board member James Blair IV, a Republican, expires July 1.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, overseen by the State Board of Education. All eight board members are appointed by the governor, though no more than four can be from the same political party. Greitens could make an immediate impact on the State education board, as three board members are serving beyond their terms — Republicans Peter Herschend and Maynard Wallace and Democrat John Martin. The term of a fourth board member, Democrat Russell Still, expires this year.

Missouri Department of Higher Education, overseen by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. All nine board members are appointed by the governor, although no more than five can be from the same political party. The board has three vacancies, and three members serving beyond their terms — Republicans Dalton Wright and Mike Thomson, and Democrat Brian Fogle.

Missouri Department of Transportation, overseen by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. All six commissioners are appointed by the governor, though no more than three can be from the same political party. There is a vacant seat that Greitens is expected to fill this year.

This story has been corrected to show that the Missouri Department of Mental Health's director position is not appointed by the governor, but by the Mental Health Commission.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport