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Goodno leaves administration

ST PAUL -- A long-time Kevin Goodno colleague was not surprised Tuesday when the Moorhead native announced he no longer will head Minnesota's largest state agency, freeing him to can take a Minneapolis law firm job.

"A person with his talents is going to have opportunities," Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, said. "You have to be prepared to move."

Goodno, a Moorhead City Council member before representing his hometown a dozen years in the state House, leaves his post as state human services commissioner July 25 to be an officer with the Fredrikson and Byron law firm. He will lead a new government relations practice.

It is time to move on with a career outside government, Goodno said in an interview. He planned to do that four years ago, when he retired from the Legislature to work year-around at the Vogel Law Firm in Moorhead.

"I got waylaid by the governor," he said.

Goodno, now 43, was one of the first commissioners Gov. Tim Pawlenty picked shortly after he was elected in 2002.

With the youngest of his and Linda Goodno's three daughters now in pre-school, it is important for him to stay in the Twin Cities and find more time for family, the departing commissioner said.

"It is kind of a bittersweet moment," Goodno said after 20 years of public service. "Now, basically, I am going from the inside to the outside."

Goodno's challenge is to establish a government relations office for the law firm that now has none. Part of that means lobbying his former legislative and administration colleagues.

"Fredrikson and Byron has been interested for some time in providing government relations services to our clients," said law firm President John Koneck. "We are pleased to have someone of Kevin's caliber -- with strong connections to state and local governments, agencies and key decision makers -- join us to build the practice."

While he is best known for health and human services issues, Goodno said he also brings to his new job a background in corporate, employment, tax and regulatory law.

Goodno's Human Services Department is one of the state's most expensive, spending $8.9 billion annually. It runs programs dealing with health care, child support, food aid, welfare, nursing home care, senior citizens, deaf Minnesotans, people with disabilities, foster care, child protection and mental health services.

Its 6,900 employees make it the state's largest department.

Goodno is the second Pawlenty commissioner to resign in recent days. Pollution Control Commissioner Sheryl Corrigan plans to leave her post Aug. 1.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.