Gov. Jeff Colyer’s transformation of the executive branch expanded Friday with appointment of the administration's new chief budget officer and personnel moves altering leadership in departments responsible for commerce, environment and health, and children and family programs.
Olathe Rep. Larry Campbell, a retired banker and current member of the Olathe City Council, is the governor's choice to replace Shawn Sullivan, who handled budget issues for Gov. Sam Brownback. Sullivan will move over to chief operating officer in the Colyer administration, focusing on Medicaid and other complex issues.
“I love a challenge,” Campbell said. “I’m really looking for it. I do have vast experience. I’m hoping I can make a difference. I really hope I can contribute.”
In addition, the interim secretary at the Kansas Department of Commerce, Brownback appointee Nick Jordan, will leave state government. He will be replaced on an interim basis by Bob North, an attorney at the commerce department. Colyer affirmed Cabinet appointments of Jeff Anderson, acting secretary at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and Gina Meier-Hummel, acting secretary at the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
John Mitchell, Brownback's director of environment at KDHE, will leave that agency. He's to be replaced on an interim basis by Leo Henning, who has worked in environmental remediation at the agency. KDHE's Medicaid director, Jon Hamdorf, will remain at the agency.
Colyer's office said Phil Whitmer had resigned from his position leading the state's office of information technology and would be replaced by Donna Shelite, who will serve in that role in an interim capacity.
On Wednesday, Brownback resigned to take a job in Washington, D.C., as international ambassador of religious freedom under President Donald Trump. Colyer was elevated from lieutenant governor to the office of governor. He's promised to make changes in administrative staffing to reflect his leadership approach.
Campbell, a Republican, said his legislative background would be useful in working through that budget debate. He was in management at five banks during his 35-year career in the industry. He earned a master’s degree in business and nearly completed a doctorate in leadership management.
He represented Johnson County in the House from 1997 to 2004 and has held a seat since 2012. Currently, he chairs the House K-12 Budget Committee and is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
“I’ve been on almost every committee in those 14 years,” he said. “I’m hoping my understanding and my friendships here and knowing how the process works will be a strength.”
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said insertion of Campbell into the administration's budget apparatus would leave Sullivan in a prominent role.
"I think Larry Campbell's appointment is a political ploy on Jeff Colyer's part to put a new face to the budget director," Hensley said. "Gov. Colyer wants to distance himself from Gov. Brownback, so he's decided to have a new budget director who will not represent the past."
The Colyer administration ought to appoint someone to focus on financial efficiency of state government, said House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat who is running for governor.
"But just to add another layer, to move the pieces around on the chess board, I would be concerned it would add bureaucracy," Ward said.