First black to head a major agency picked by Mecham as health chief

January 3, 1987

By Susan R. Carson
The Arizona Daily Star

PHOENIX — Gov.-elect Evan Mecham appointed three agency directors yesterday, including the state’s first black director of a major agency.

Theodore E. Williams, 43, a Glendale resident who is vice president of operations for Baptist Hospitals and Health Services, was named the director of the Department of Health Services.

Ron Bellus, Mecham’s press secretary, said the appointment was not made to make amends with the black community after Mecham’s pledge to rescind the Martin Luther King holiday.

“We went after the most qualified people we can get regardless of race,” Bellus said.

Also appointed yesterday were Alan P. Kleinman, 50, a Mesa economic consultant who was named director of the Department of Water Resources: and Thomas P. Caldwell, 42, vice president of a management training company who was selected director of the Department of Commerce.

All three appointments must be confirmed by the Senate.

Mecham also named Robert M. Lightfoot, assistant director of administration for the Lottery Commission, as acting director of the commission.

The temporary appointment was made because director Charles Buri’s resignation was effective yesterday. An acting director is needed to sign checks for any lottery winners between Monday and the time a director is named, Bellus said.

It has not been decided whether Lightfoot will be named director, he said.

Williams is no stranger to state government. He worked as deputy director of the health department from August 1976 to December 1980, when he became deputy director of the state Department of Transportation until August 1981.

He also served as a special assistant to former Gov. Raul Castro, coordinating some state agencies, including the health department and the Transportation and Corrections departments.

He holds law and engineering degrees from Arizona State University.

Williams could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Usdane, R-Scottsdale, said legislators think highly of Williams, who has worked well with the Legislature.

“If this is reflective of the governor-elect’s appointments, they will be looked upon with a lot of respect,” Usdane said.

Sen. Greg Lunn, R-Tucson, chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee, which will review Williams’ appointment, said he thought Mecham made a good choice.

“l’ve worked with Ted in the past,” Lunn said. “He certainly has a lot of experience in the area.”

Usdane said he did not know anything about the other three men. Lunn said Kleinman is an unknown in the water-supply community.

Kleinman, whose name was heard only recently in political circles, came as a surprise to many.

Legislators and others with water interests had been talking about the future with former agribusiness executive Bob Moore, who was backed by Mecham special assistant Sam Steiger, and whom they expected to be named to the post.

Kleinman is president of Great Western Research, a Mesa company that has worked with irrigation districts, Indian reservations and the state on the economics of water issues.

He also worked as an economist for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation before working one year as a analyst for the Arizona Water Commission in the late 1970s.

Kleinman said he has resigned as president and has disassociated himself with Great Western because of possible conflicts of interest.

He also said he plans to take the department for being like a “police state” to being a planning agency as it was before.

“Their responsibility has been to enforce the Groundwater Act and, as such, they’ve had to step on a few toes,” he said.

While enforcement is a “necessary part of the ground water legislation,” he said, it should be done in a cooperative rather than an adversarial manner.

“We still have to regulate. There’s no question about that.” But the department has become too involved in regulating and forgotten about planning, he said.

He said he will prepare a 50-year plan with cooperation from cities, agricultural and other water interests.

Caldwell, 42, is vice president of operations at Personnel Administration Services Inc. in Scottsdale, where he specializes in management and educational training.

Before holding that job, Caldwell was a principal at an elementary school in the Chandler Unified School District, where he worked from 1978 to 1985.

He holds a doctorate in education from the University of Michigan, as well as bachelor‘s and master’s degrees from Northern Arizona University.

Caldwell could not be reached for comment.

No salaries were released by the Mecham administration. Kleinman also refused to release his salary only saying that his was substantially lower than outgoing director Kathy Ferris’ $78,500.

The appointments will be effective Monday.