Parson

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday announced five new department heads in a major leadership reshuffle for his administration.

Part of the switch-up is because Sarah Steelman stepped down as the commissioner of the Office of Administration, effective Tuesday.

Parson’s office hasn't explained why she left, and Steelman didn't immediately return an Associated Press request for comment Tuesday. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Parson’s chief of staff asked her to resign, telling her she didn't do anything wrong.

Parson named Department of Revenue Director Ken Zellers to replace her as the acting administration commissioner. That department’s top attorney, Joseph Plaggenberg, will take over as acting director.

“This transition in state government will better position our Cabinet to provide the best possible service to Missourians in the coming years," Parson said in a statement.

Parson also picked his deputy chief of staff, Robert Knodell, to be the next acting director of social services. Jennifer Tidball had been serving as acting director since 2019, when former director Steve Corsi resigned to take a job with a faith-based nonprofit.

Parson has repeatedly tapped Knodell for leadership in his administration. He picked Knodell to temporarily lead the state's health department for several months this year after the former director resigned in April.

Parson also named Maggie Kost acting director of the Department of Economic Development, where she's currently serving as deputy director. Director Rob Dixon previously announced plans to quit Oct. 22 to take a job with Ameren Missouri.

Similarly, Parson picked Department of Mental Health Deputy Director Valerie Huhn to take over as acting director when Mark Stringer retires from the position at the end of October.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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