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Whitmer shakes up staff, cabinet heading into 2nd term

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is shaking up her cabinet heading into the new year.

Seven state departments and agencies will have new leadership heading into Whitmer’s second term. Their purview includes environmental regulation, state parks, hunting and fishing, agriculture, energy policy, transportation, veterans’ affairs and enforcing marijuana rules.

Whitmer offered no specific reasons for the sweeping cabinet reshuffle in a statement sent from her office.

“With a new term, comes new opportunities and challenges,” she said. “Today’s appointments and promotions will only build on the work that we’ve done over the last four years. We know it won’t be easy, but it will be gratifying when we build a state that enables every Michigander to succeed."

The leaders of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy; the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; the Department of Transportation; and the Veterans Affairs Agency are all moving on.

Some of these are not a surprise. Department of Transportation Director Paul Ajegba and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell were already expected to retire.

But others were not expected. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy; the Department of Technology, Management and Budget; and the Department of Natural Resources will be operating under new directors. The same is true for the Cannabis Regulatory Agency and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

In some cases, cabinet members are moving to new positions within the administration. In four cases, the designees will serve as acting directors in their new roles. A sitting state Senator — Adam Hollier — will direct the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency once his term ends.

Brad Wieferich was named acting director of the Michigan Department of Transportation after serving as its chief operating officer. He’s played a role in a lot of knotty projects, including helping to move along the Gordie Howe International Bridge to serve as another connection between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The new state transportation director will have the job of helping to come up with a road funding plans. Fixing the roads — and coming up with the funding to do that — was a central campaign promise Whitmer made heading into her first term.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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