Last year was a sea change election in Michigan, electing new leaders for top statewide offices, starting with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Changes may have started at the top, but they’ve rippled through state government, as Whitmer has appointed new directors for most departments.
For the last several months, the Michigan Advance sat down with seven top leaders for video interviews about their departments and the challenges they’re facing. It’s part of our “Inside Michigan Government” series taking you behind the scenes of your state government.
Here are all of the stories in one handy place:
State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks and Budget Director Chris Kolb
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed a $60.2 billion budget for 2020, the next fiscal year. State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks and Budget Director Chris Kolb discussed crafting the state budget, deciding on spending priorities, how Whitmer’s tax plans work and fitting into their new roles.
Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington
Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Heidi Washington is the only carryover cabinet member from former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration. She talked about criminal justice reform, the “significant decrease” in the department’s prison population and the prisoner skilled trades training program she implemented.
Michigan Department of Transportation Director Paul Ajegba
The man in charge of carrying out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s most famous campaign promise to “fix the damn roads” is Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Paul Ajegba. He talked with the Advance about how Michigan got into its infrastructure crisis and what he thinks we can do about it.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon talked to the Advance about how his department is handling lead and PFAS contamination in drinking water and implementing new work requirements for Healthy Michigan recipients.
Department of Environmental Quality into the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Director Liesl Clark
As the director of the new Department of Environmental Quality into the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Liesl Clark discussed tackling PFAS contamination in drinking water, the Flint water crisis and the Line 5 oil pipeline.
Michigan State Police Director Col. Joseph Gasper
Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Col. Joseph Gasper talked about concerns regarding racial profiling, community outreach and how the department interacts with communities of color.