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Harpestad should have skills for DHS

Governor Tim Walz took steps to bring the state’s Department of Human Services under better control Monday by naming Jodi Harpestead as the new commissioner of DHS.

There has been turmoil in the massive state agency since last month, when the commissioner Walz first appointed, former state senator Tony Lourey resigned, shortly after his two top deputies resigned. The two rescinded their resignations after Lourey resigned.

Walz said at the time that Lourey told him he didn’t feel he had the skill set needed to run the agency.

Well, with Harpestead, Walz is looking at someone from a different background.

Lourey was a politician who specialized in DHS budgeting and legislation. Walz apparently looked to his expertise and legislative connections to guide DHS funding legislation through the session, including the retention of the provider tax that was set to end. He succeeded at that, but wasn’t able to keep the agency running smoothly.

Harpestead comes from a business and social services background. She has an MBA, 23 years as a manager at Medtronic, Inc., and most recently was president of Lutheran Social Services in Minnesota, overseeing thousands of employees who delivered services to people. She should be able to translate those skills to DHS and its 7,263 workers.

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