Environment, public health

Former DHHS deputy Randall Williams nominated to head Missouri health department

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (left) has nominated Randall Williams, former NC Deputy Secretary of DHHS, to lead Missouri’s health department. (Photo: Gov. Geitens’s Facebook page)

Randall Williams, among the state officials entangled in the coal ash and drinking water controversy, could be the next leader of the Missouri health and senior services department. The story was reported today by The Kansas City Star.

Williams, who served as the deputy secretary of the the NC Health and Human Services, was nominated by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican. The Missouri Senate still must confirm Williams.

In a Facebook post, Gov. Greitens wrote, “Our new Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, Dr. Randall Williams, is an exceptional leader who will put the people of Missouri first.”

The post continued:

As the State Health Director and Deputy Secretary for Health Services in North Carolina, Dr. Williams helped lead a 17,000 member agency with a 20 billion dollar budget. But even as he helped lead such a large organization, he never forgot that he was there to serve the people. He visited all 100 counties in North Carolina to understand and listen to the needs of their rural, underserved patients. And after each visit, he took action. And he got results. He’s committed to doing the same here in Missouri. … Now, he’ll serve the people of Missouri with the same commitment and compassion. Together, I know that we can create a health system that ensures that everyone has access to quality care, and nobody is forgotten.”

Williams became central to the coal ash scandal for his role in reversing the do not drink orders to households whose wells may have been contaminated by discharge from Duke Energy coal ash basins. Those letters, which rescinded previous “do not drink” advisories, downplayed the health risks of hexavalent chromium in drinking water.

Shortly before leaving office, Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Williams to the state’s oil and gas commission. Obviously, Williams must resign that position to take the Missouri job. Fun fact: Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and amateur boxer, graduated from Duke University in 1996.

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