Lake also faces the prospect of getting a new boss soon. A state question on the ballot Nov. 6 would dissolve the oversight board and replace it with four citizen advisory panels. The measure would allow the governor to appoint the DHS director. So Lake could be answering directly to Gov. Mary Fallin, who met with him Wednesday and reportedly is high on him.
Lake says he's “a young 64.” He'll need to be as he addresses the challenges ahead for the agency that deals not only with child welfare, but with food stamps, elder care, adoptions and other programs. He clearly recognizes those challenges: “Let's face it, this job is going to be difficult for anybody. If anybody said otherwise, they don't understand the circumstances.”
Lake has been in the mix for the job from the beginning. In early May, he was identified by a search committee as one of two finalists. A few weeks later, though, DHS hired a professional executive personnel search firm to scour the country for more candidates.
After all that, Lake is the choice. There are two ways to view this. One is that the second search didn't turn up many more suitable candidates. The other is that no matter where the search team looked, Lake continued to stand out.
Comments by commission Chairman Wes Lane, who called Lake “the right man at the right time, right background, right credentials, right credibility,” indicate that the latter was the case.
We join other Oklahomans in hoping that Lane is correct.