Land Stewardship Project believes that Tony Lourey's departure as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services represents a serious loss for rural people, farmers, and all of Minnesota.

As a farmer himself, former Commissioner Lourey brought an essential perspective and personal experience to his role in the administration of Gov. Tim Walz. In a time when out-of-control corporate power is causing crisis for many people, including in the farm economy and through the impacts of the profit-driven, private health insurance system, leaders who are willing to stand with people and share our values are greatly needed.

We thank Tony Lourey for his leadership in protecting, expanding, and improving public health care during many years of service to the people of Minnesota, including his work as a state senator and his role this year in the successful fight to preserve Minnesota's health care provider tax to fund critically needed public programs.

We agree with his statement that the public health care programs and other services administered by DHS "demonstrate our collective compassion for one another." Our government agencies and public institutions provide a way for people to do together what we can't do alone, to work to meet our needs together and invest in our shared future as Minnesotans.

The next commissioner to lead DHS must have an unshakeable commitment to valuing people's lives over corporate profits, and a willingness to work closely together with people's organizations toward the goal of health care for all.

We appreciate that during his tenure, Commissioner Lourey and DHS staff met with us and partner organizations several times, valued our input, and engaged in meaningful dialogue on our health care system and how to move forward to improve Minnesotans' lives. The Land Stewardship Project looks forward to working with the Walz administration throughout the process of selecting a new DHS Commissioner who shares this approach and these values, and who will work with us to achieve a stronger and healthier Minnesota and combat the undue influence of corporate interests on health care policy in our state.

Johanna Rupprecht and Paul Sobocinski

Land Stewardship Project