Salazar takes job as state’s new ag leader

Former U.S. Rep. John Salazar will take the job as agriculture commissioner when Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper takes office next week.

At the same time, Mike King, the Montrose native who took over as head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources last May, will stay in that job, Hickenlooper’s transition staff announced Wednesday.

The two announcements came along with several others as the Denver Democrat tries to fill more cabinet positions before he takes office Tuesday.

Hickenlooper’s staff also said John Stulp, the agriculture commissioner under outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter, will remain as a senior policy adviser on water issues. He also nominated Dr. Chris Urbina as executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Currently, Urbina heads the public health division of Denver Health, which operates several medical facilities in the metropolitan area.

The Hickenlooper team had been trying to persuade Salazar to accept the job overseeing the Colorado Department of Agriculture for more than a week, saying his expertise as a farmer and rancher, and his knowledge of water issues would prove invaluable to the state.

“A thriving agriculture sector is critical to Colorado’s economic recovery,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Farmers and ranchers are also leading the way as business innovators. Their prosperity helps build a foundation for all of Colorado, and no one has been a more passionate champion for agriculture and rural communities than John Salazar.”

Before being named head of DNR last year, King started work at the department in January 2006 as assistant director for lands, mineral and energy policy.

By September of that same year, however, he was promoted to deputy director. For six years before that, King worked in the policy and regulation division of the Division of Wildlife.

King now lives in Parker.

Stulp is a Lamar rancher and farmer who also operates one of the state’s largest wind farms. He served as a Prowers County commissioner from 1991 to 2005.

As with all of Hickenlooper’s department nominees, Salazar, King and Urbina will face Senate confirmation hearings when the Legislature reconvenes next week.

Hickenlooper has yet to announce nominations for about a dozen other departments, including transportation, education, revenue and corrections.


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