Pawlenty close to naming new health commissioner

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he’s just days away from naming a new leader for the Minnesota Department of Health.

Pawlenty has been searching for a replacement for Dianne Mandernach, who came under severe criticism for delaying the release of data about a rare cancer that strikes Iron Range miners. Mandernach’s last day was Thursday.

The Republican governor says he’s got several "very solid and wonderful candidates" and will make an announcement within days.

Several Democratic lawmakers are urging Pawlenty to pick someone who will be aggressive on environmental health issues and quick to tell the public about health risks. They want someone who will address mercury in vaccines, industrial and farm chemicals in water, and the rare lung cancer called mesothelioma.

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