Blevins, Cook get new state jobs

DOVER — The Division of Public Health announced Wednesday it has hired former state Sen. Patricia Blevins to head the Office of Animal Welfare, while the Delaware River and Bay Authority said it has hired outgoing Secretary of Finance Tom Cook as its new director.

Ms. Blevins, a Democrat, served as a state senator from 1990 to 2016 before being defeated by Republican Anthony Delcollo in November. She was the president pro tempore, the top position in the Senate, for the past four years.

Mr. Cook has been the secretary of finance since 2009 but will leave soon as a new administration begins this month.

Delaware Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia M. Blevins, D-Elsmere, was back at the helm Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Patricia M. Blevins

Former Animal Welfare Executive Director Hetti Brown resigned the position in December to move to the Midwest, while current DRBA Executive Director Scott A. Green will retire next month.

Ms. Brown had headed the agency since it was created in 2013, and Mr. Green had been the director of the authority since 2012.

“We are so thrilled that Patti Blevins was willing to join us,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said in a statement. “She has the combination of leadership, budget and management experience, plus a deep knowledge about the Delaware animal system and its strengths and challenges that we need. We were sorry to lose Hetti Brown and wanted to fill her shoes with someone who will continue to chart this new path. As one of the original architects of the constantly evolving animal welfare system, Blevins is the perfect replacement.”

The hiring of Ms. Blevins, however, drew criticism from Republicans.

“We did a national search and we came right back to someone here who just lost an election?” Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, said.

Ms. Blevins spent nine years as executive director of the Delaware Helpline and three years managing the Denison Branch of Girls Inc. She chaired the state Animal Welfare Task Force, which in 2013 recommended animal welfare be reformed and separated into a new office.

The Animal Welfare director is well-compensated: Ms. Brown was paid about $83,294 in 2015.

The office handles spaying and neutering, animal shelter oversight and euthanasia technician certification, emergency animal sheltering and disaster response, the animal services hotline and animal control and cruelty agency certification.

The Delaware River and Bay Authority operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and the

Tom Cook

Forts Ferry Crossing. It also manages two corporate and aviation properties in New Jersey and three in Delaware — the New Castle Airport, Civil Air Terminal and Delaware Airpark.

“I appreciate and value the confidence that the commissioners have in my abilities to lead the Delaware River and Bay Authority,” Mr. Cook said in a statement. “Public service is an important to me and the Authority operates and manages significant transportation infrastructure vital to our region.

“This is a great opportunity to use the myriad of skills and knowledge that I’ve gained throughout my professional career to make a difference for the citizens of Delaware and New Jersey. I look forward to working with the dedicated men and women of the Authority to further our transportation and economic development missions which have flourished under the leadership of the current executive director, Scott A. Green.”

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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