Governor Tom Vilsack has fired a third of his state agency directors, including two women whose leadership of the departments of human services and economic development has sparked criticism. Vilsack says he’s getting rid of six department directors to send the message that he’s refocusing state government. Vilsack said the day after his re-election to a second term that changes would be made, and he announced the departures yesterday afternoon, on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday. Vilsack asked for and received resignations from Department of Human Services director Jesse Rasmussen who was repeatedly criticized by Republican legislators. Vilsack’s Republican opponent also promised to install a new leader at the Department of Economic Development, where Vilsack has now jettisoned director C.J. Niles. Vilsack refuses to talk about why certain directors were let go. Vilsack says the “individuals have worked hard, but now, rather than looking back” he wants to “look forward..with energy.” Vilsack, a democrat, is keeping a dozen state agency directors, three of whom were agency leaders under Vilsack’s Republican predecessor, Terry Branstad. Vilsack also got rid of two key law enforcement leaders: Department of Corrections director W.J. Kautzky and State Drug Czar Bruce Upchurch. The directors of the Department of General Services and Information Technology are also out.
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