Dr. Harry Chen (center) at a 2015 press conference.
Dr. Harry Chen, who has served as state health commissioner for all six years of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s tenure, told his staff Tuesday that he will not seek reappointment when Phil Scott takes the governor’s office.
Chen notified Department of Health staff by email that it was a difficult decision he made during the Thanksgiving holiday. “My six years as your commissioner have been without a doubt the best job of my career,” he wrote.
Chen said he would stay on until January 5, through the end of Shumlin’s tenure. He offered to stay on longer — if needed — during the transition to a new commissioner.
All state department commissioners and agency secretaries are expected to submit their resignations as the new governor takes office. Some plan to apply for reappointment in the Scott administration. Chen’s announcement signifies that he’s not one of them.
Chen was an emergency room physician at Rutland Regional Medical Center when Shumlin appointed him health commissioner in January 2011. Chen also served in the Vermont House from 2004 to 2008. He served as acting Agency of Human Services secretary in 2014-15.