New governor stops in El Dorado
El Dorado had the opportunity to meet the new Kansas governor yesterday morning, when Jeff Colyer stopped by Turner’s Coffee & Donuts.
Just a day after being sworn in as Kansas’ 47th governor to replace Sam Brownback, Colyer was making stops in the state to share his optimistic message.
“This is my first donut shop visit as governor,” he said holding a bear claw, “Thanks for having us.”
The former Kansas Lieutenant Governor was appointed after Brownback was appointed to a post in Donald Trump's administration.
Colyer is a doctor, and a fifth-generation Kansan from Hays, who has made service an important part of his life. He explained that as a plastic surgeon, he volunteerd both at home and internationally, including war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa.
“I perform reconstruction and have seen a lot of kids - in genocide situations,” he added, “I’ve exerienced the worst and the very best.”
Colyer also served as a White House Fellow for international affairs under Presidents Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush.
“The spirit of service is what we do and that’s what makes Kansas great.”
Colyer touched on what is important to him as governor and a citizen.
“Life is sacred. Always. I am a surgeon, not a politician,” he continued, “I will work with you and always try to level with you.”
He shared his activities on his first day as governor, meeting with House and Senate leadership, Republicans and Democrats.
“School financing is a problem and we’ll be laying out some plans in the next few weeks.”
He also advised that there would be some major changes in the state’s Medicaid program.
“Money has been taken from Medicare to fund Medicaid and that impacted local hospitals...We proposed in the budget this year a 4 percent increase for nursing homes and hospitals. The first in 25 years.”
Before concluding, he shared more optimism for the state, “I’m excited for the opportunity and I see Kansas going forward. I’ll be working hard for you. I’m here to be your governor. I’ll be keeping surgeon hours, not politician hours.”
Other places included on the governor’s stops for Friday were Independence, Pittsburg, Salina, McPherson, Hutchinson, Garden City, and Emporia.
Later in the day, Governor Colyer’s office released a statement concerning personnel changes for the senior staff of cabinet and subcabinet agencies. Colyer also announced several changes to his governor’s office staff.
Larry Campbell, Olathe Representative for District 26, will join the Budget Office as Chief Budget Officer. The position will allow the governor’s office to increase its focus on performance-based budgeting. Campbell’s position as K-12 budget chair will be an asset to the Colyer Administration as they work with the legislature to find a workable solution to the education funding issue that will take center stage this session.
Shawn Sullivan, who had served as Budget Director, has been named Chief Operating Officer, where he will handle complex issues that touch multiple agencies, such as Medicaid eligibility.
Phil Whitmer is leaving the Office of Information Technology and Donna Shelite will step in as Interim Chief Information Technology Officer.
Other changes include:
* Jeff Anderson will serve as Acting Secretary after the departure of Susan Mosier
* Jon Hamdorf will serve as Medicaid Director. He had served as interim Medicaid Director since the departure of Michael Randol.
* Greg Lakin has been named Chief Medical Officer.
• John Mitchell, Director of Environment, is leaving the agency
• Leo Henning will serve as the Interim Director of Environment
• Acting Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel has replaced former Secretary Phyllis Gilmore
• Kathe Decker will replace former Chief of Staff, Jeff Kahrs
• Susan Gile is now serving as Deputy Secretary for Family Services
• David Kurt is now serving as East Regional Director
• Patricia Long will serve as Prevention and Protection Services Director
• Interim Secretary Nick Jordan will depart the agency
• Bob North will serve as Interim Secretary
• Stan Alrech, Executive Director of Workforce and Innovation is leaving the agency
• Diane DeBacker is now Executive Director for Business and Education Innovation.
Governor’s office staffing changes
In addition to the above changes, Governor Colyer’s office also outlined changes to the structure and makeup of his senior staff.
• Karla Werth joins the Governor’s office as Director of Constituent Services. Karla previous served in that role for the Graves Administration.
• Kendall Marr, who joined Colyer’s office as communications director in September, will now serve as chief communications officer. In the new role, Marr will take on increased responsibilities in coordinating and managing state agency communications staff.
•Andrew Wiens will serve as Chief Policy Officer. He replaced Brandon Smith.
•David Soffer also will join the governor’s office as special assistant to the governor. Peter Barstad will join as policy analyst. Mary Sabatini has been brought on as assistant to the chief of staff.