Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday, Jan. 19, made two more Cabinet nominations and nominated a director for the Maine Workers’ Compensaton Board. All of the nominees face legislative scrutiny at public hearings then votes of confirmation by the full Senate.

Mary Mayhew of South China was picked as commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. Dairy farmer Walter Whitcomb of Waldo was nominated as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources. And Paul Sighinolfi of Brewer, an expert on workers’ compensation, was nominated as executive director of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board.

Recently, LePage had named Mayhew his senior policy adviser for health care. Before that, for 11 years she was vice president of the Maine Hospital Associations. As vice president of the hospital association, Mayhew was responsible for state and federal government relations and development and advocacy of the group’s health care policies.

“We need someone who understands health care and she is clearly an expert in the field of health care,” LePage told reporters and others gathered in his Cabinet Room to hear the announcements.

In a prepared statement, LePage said of Mayhew, “She knows the issues, she knows the people and she knows the complicated interactions that occur between the state and federal government.

“Mary also understands the need for welfare reform. I have learned she is committed to making the changes needed to make our safety net work for the recipients and the taxpayer. We are going to help Maine families break the cycle of dependency.”

In response to a reporter’s question, LePage said he doesn’t like anything about the Dirigo Health Program, the health-insurance program for the uninsured that was started by former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci. “I haven’t seen anything about Dirigo Health Program that I want to preserve,” said LePage.

The governor said he’s heard an “enormous number” of complaints about welfare fraud. “My goal is to provide good customer services to those in need, including the mentally ill, and to move them quickly to independence,” he said.

LePage said he conducted a national search for a DHHS commissioner and quipped, “I’ve been rejected by more women than I was in four years of high school and six years of college and it’s all about money. We just can’t pay enough.”

“We have an awful lot of work to do in health care,” LePage said.

Mayhew said, “I am honored by the faith the governor has placed in me. Everyone agrees that DHHS must be held more accountable to consumers and taxpayers.”

Mayhew said she plans to do a “detailed top-down review of the department” that will reveal “which programs are successful and which are failing.”

In the last seven years, Mayhew said enrollment in welfare programs has skyrocketed by 73 percent. “Are we helping those in need and moving them toward a better life? Welfare was never intended to be a lifestyle. We can effectively serve Maine’s most truly needy citizens … We cannot be everything to everyone.”

Whitcomb has owned Springdale Jerseys Inc. for the past 32 years. The dairy farmer also served six terms in the Maine House as a Republican legislator, from 1984 to 1996, including two terms as House Republican leader in the mid-1990s.

Whitcomb told reporters, “This administration recognizes that rural communities and the entire state need a strong agricultural economy. It is less expensive to grow our own food and process it here than to bring it across the county. Maine can truly be the breadbasket of New England.”

LePage said in a prepared statement, “Walt has been a leader in agriculture policy, working with the Maine Dairy Industry Association. He has represented Maine’s farming interests in Washington and has worked closely with our congressional delegation.”

“When it come to Maine’s natural resource-based industries, we are looking for stewardship and leadership — we are going to leave the industries stronger and better positioned to compete and create jobs in the future.”

Sighinolfi is in charge of the Workers’ Compensation Practice Group at the law firm of Rudman & Winchell. He co-authored the “Maine Employment Guide: Workers’ Compensation.”

In November 2002, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court appointed Sighinolfi to a three-year term on the Board of Overseers of the Bar. He was reappointed to a second three-year term in 2005, when he served as vice chairman of the board.

Sighinolfi said he moved to Maine from Washington, D.C., because he thought this would be a great place to bring up children. He said his hunch proved to be right.

As executive director of the Workers’ Compensation Board, Sighinolfi said, “I hope I can do something to improve the business climate in this state. I hope to get the system operating so that it’s fair, equitable and handles cases in a timely fashion.”