MONTPELIER -- Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin announced several changes in senior state government positions Tuesday, including the departure of a top aide who has been with him since his days leading the state Senate.
Alex MacLean, who has managed both of Shumlin’s campaigns for governor and served during his first term as secretary of civil and military affairs, will step down in the near future to explore opportunities in the private sector, the governor said.
Shumlin called MacLean’s departure "a decision that doesn’t thrill me. ... It’s not my choice, but hers."
Other changes announced Tuesday involve:
* Bill Lofy, who will leave his job as Shumlin’s chief of staff to go to work for the Democratic Governors Association, a group whose chairmanship Shumlin is seeking in an election next month.
* Elizabeth Miller, who will move to chief of staff from her current job as commissioner of the Department of Public Service, which oversees the energy and telecommunications industries.
* Christopher Recchia, who leaves his current job as deputy secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources to replace Miller as commissioner of the Department of Public Service.
* Mental Health Commissioner Patrick Flood -- who has overseen the revamping of the state’s mental health system since its main psychiatric hospital, the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury, was flooded by Tropical Storm Irene -- will step down. He’ll be replaced on a temporary basis by Deputy Commissioner Mary Moulon while a national search for a new commissioner is conducted, Shumlin said.
* Dixie Henry, senior policy and legal adviser at the Department of Health, will move to become deputy secretary of the Agency of Human Services.
* Steve Kimbell, whom Shumlin coaxed out of retirement two years ago to serve as commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, will leave that post as expected to return to his Tunbridge sheep farm. He’ll be replaced by Susan Donegan, who had been his deputy overseeing the insurance industry.
"One of the things that I’m most proud of over the last two years has been the extraordinary team that we have assembled to get the work done that must be done," Shumlin said. "This re-election as we enter a second term gives us an opportunity to make a few changes."
Vermont is one of only two states -- the other is New Hampshire -- with two-year terms for governor, and the period between re-election and inauguration traditionally has been a time for changes in senior appointed positions within an administration.
Timothy Hayward, a former senior aide to Gov. Richard Snelling and chief of staff to Gov. Jim Douglas, said such changes were common.
"Certainly in the governors’ office every two years you’d find some turnover; it’s just nature," he said. "The pace in a governor’s office is very unusual."