ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov.-elect Mark Dayton expanded his cabinet Friday by appointing three people to head the state’s education, health and pollution-control agencies.
Dayton, a Democrat who takes office Monday, selected Dr. Brenda Cassellius to lead the Department of Education, Paul Aasen to run the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Dr. Edward Ehlinger to head the Department of Health.
Dayton’s office said all three appointees are known and respected throughout their professions and across partisan lines.
The Associated Press sent e-mails seeking reaction to Kevin Watterson, a spokesman for the GOP caucus in the state House, and state Deputy GOP Chairman Michael Brodkorb. The e-mails were not immediately returned.
Cassellius has spent 20 years as a teacher, administrator and superintendent in Minnesota and Tennessee. She is currently the superintendent of the East Metro Integration District.
Cassellius previously served as an associate superintendent in the Minneapolis Public Schools, covering 19 middle and high schools.
“This is a great privilege and responsibility,” she said of her appointment, in the statement released by Dayton’s office.
Dayton said Cassellius brings proven leadership in education innovation. He said she has a level of experience in building consensus “that public education in Minnesota has been lacking for too long.”
The governor-elect turned to Aasen to run the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, a pick that was lauded by a number of environmental groups. Dayton said Aasen shares his view that the agency’s mission and name should be changed from “Pollution Control” to `Pollution Reduction.”
Aasen served as the director of government relations and policy under former Gov. Jesse Ventura. Most recently he was the advocacy director for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.
He also has a Master’s degree in public health from the University of Minnesota and spent six years as an environmental scientist at the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission.
Aasen said three of his top issues include addressing air quality in the metro area, continuing the clean-up of lakes and rivers and making sure “the agency moves at the speed of commerce as it does its work.”
Conservation Minnesota and the Freshwater Society were among the groups that touted Aasen’s appointment in a statement, saying he has a strong record of fighting for environmental issues.
Ehlinger was selected to lead the Department of Health. He has been the director and chief health officer at Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota since 1995. Before that he was a director at the Minneapolis Department of Health for 15 years.
Dayton said Ehlinger brings both experience and expertise to the position.
Ehlinger called the appointment “thrilling” and said he looks forward to working with Dayton to keep Minnesotans “healthy, happy and prosperous.”
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