Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to remake agency heads, staff in new term. She announced her new chief of staff Tuesday.

Source: By Barbara Rodriguez, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2018

Gov. Kim Reynolds will remake the state’s top advisers and agency heads when she begins her four-year term next month.

Reynolds, a Republican, said most of the staff changes, which are expected to include agency directors, will come in January.

“We’re working through the transition process,” Reynolds said Tuesday.

Some changes have already begun. In recent days, agency directors for corrections, civil rights, public safety and revenue have announced their departures, as did the head of Iowa State Patrol.

Shortly after Reynolds spoke to reporters Tuesday, her office announced her chief of staff, Ryan Koopmans, plans to step down at the end of the week. Less than an hour later, Reynolds’ office said he would be replaced with Sara Craig Gongol, who worked with on the governor’s successful campaign for a four-year term.

“As I begin my first full term, I am excited to bring together a new team to help implement my vision for building a stronger, better Iowa. Sara is uniquely prepared to help me build that team and get to work for the people of Iowa,” Reynolds said in a statement.

It’s not unusual for a governor entering a new term to make leadership changes for the agencies that make up state government.

“That’s just part of the process and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Reynolds said.

Iowa Department of Revenue Director Courtney Kay-Decker told staff in an email that she’s returning to the private sector. Others, like Iowa Department of Corrections Director Jerry Bartruff, said during a public budget meeting that he’s retiring after more than three decades working at the agency. He was named director in 2015.

Some agency directors, like Debi Durham at the Iowa Economic Development Authority, have been unclear about their futures.

Durham, who has been in the role since 2011, said “stay tuned,” when asked Monday about her plans.

Reynolds said she didn’t ask agency heads to submit resignations and indicated there’s no timeline for her to make final decisions.

Many of the outgoing appointees were holdovers from Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration. Reynolds served as lieutenant governor for Branstad and took over as Iowa’s top executive when the long-time governor became U.S. ambassador to China.

Reynolds defeated Democrat Fred Hubbell in the November election.

The Republican-controlled Iowa Senate must confirm new agency directors. The confirmation process requires 34 votes, which will give Democrats some say in the governor’s appointments.

Register reporter Kevin Hardy contributed to this report.