State Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, was appointed commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services for the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Tim Walz.

In his District 11 seat, Lourey currently represents parts of St. Louis, Carlton, Pine and Kanabec counties. He has served served in that capacity since 2007. Kerrick is west and south of Duluth.

“We engaged hundreds of stakeholders and partners and what we heard is that this leader must be passionate about the people served and vision for the agency,” Walz said in a statement. “Tony is that leader. He will bring his unparalleled expertise on the DHS budget and be a collaborative leader that listens and works together - especially with the agency’s partners, counties, and tribes.”

The Department of Human Services oversees a vast of area of services across the state, from child support and food assistance to elder care and people with disabilities.

“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to join the incoming Walz-Flanagan Administration as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services,” said Lourey. “I look forward to building on the Governor-elect and Lt. Governor-elect’s vision for One Minnesota, partnering with counties, tribes, and providers to improve the health of the people, families, and communities across Minnesota.”

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday set a special election for Feb. 5 to fill Lourey’s seat; a primary will be held Jan. 22 if necessary.

Candidates have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to file.

Lourey’s absence gives Republicans a two-vote majority in the state Senate, so the special election will not change control of the chamber.