Dunleavy announces environmental, health commissioners

November 27, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy’s pick to lead the Department of Environmental Conservation has a resource development background. His pick for health commissioner is a workforce development company executive.

Dunleavy, a Republican former state senator, in a statement said the status quo “came to a screeching halt” with his election. He said his appointees with help deliver state services in “innovative ways.”

Dunleavy takes office Dec. 3. Among the appointments he announced Monday were Jason Brune as Environmental Conservation commissioner and Adam Crum as health commissioner.

Brune is a former executive director of the Resource Development Council who worked in public affairs for a former partner in the Pebble Mine project. He most recently has worked for the Alaska Native corporation Cook Inlet Region, Inc., as senior director of land and resources. His biography states he has a degree in biology.

Brune said he takes seriously the department’s mission. He said it’s important to listen to and understand different perspectives and believes his experience will “go a long way in making sure Alaska’s environment is protected and our natural resources are responsibly developed.”

Alaska’s economy is based on responsible resource extraction and permitting must be fair and science based, he said, adding that he believes he can be fair in his evaluations.

Guy Archibald with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council said he hopes Brune can be fair. He said his group would like to meet with Brune to understand his approach.

Crum’s bio, released by Dunleavy’s transition, says he has degrees in psychology and public health. Crum told The Associated Press he is not a “health care policy guy” but is experienced in putting together and leading teams and working on projects.

He said there are talented people working in the state Department of Health and Social Services.

Crum, who said he applied for the job, is executive vice president with Northern Industrial Training LLC.

In his new role, he said a focus will be on “people, not programs,” to make sure services are provided to those who need them most. Dunleavy has said he wants to review the state’s Medicaid program to see if it’s sustainable.

Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, said it’s a bit unusual to hire someone who hasn’t worked directly in the industry. But she said the department is big and complex and requires a leader with strong management skills. If Crum has those skills and surrounds himself with people who understand the complexities of health care, she said he could be a strong leader.

“I think we need to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Hultberg, a former state commissioner of Administration who remembers being called inexperienced. She said her agency got things done because of the talent on her team.

Dunleavy named Jonathan Quick his pick for commissioner of the Department of Administration and Donna Arduin as his budget director.

Arduin has worked with other Republican governors across the country, including as budget director for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. She has been a partner in a firm with Arthur Laffer that touts a “supply-side approach.” Laffer served in an advisory role to President Ronald Reagan.

The three commissioner picks are subject to legislative confirmation.

Update hourly