Milwaukee Common Council votes in new health commissioner

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Common Council has confirmed Mayor Tom Barrett's pick for health commissioner.

Dr. Jeanette Kowalik wiped tears from her eyes after the vote. Not only is this a new day for the city, but it’s also a homecoming for her. Born and raised in Milwaukee, she’s leaving her post as an associate director for a health program in D.C. to assume this new role.

During Wednesday's vote, Alderman Bob Donovan said although Dr. Kowalik has a great deal of work ahead, he hopes for a smooth transition.

Dr. Kowalik will replace former Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker. Baker left the health department in January after problems with the city’s lead abatement program —the department failed to provide services to families of children who tested positive for lead.

Patricia Mcmanus has served as interim commissioner since Baker stepped down. Dr. Kowalik says it feels good to be home.

“I can’t even describe how I feel other than that I’m holding it in. I want to just cry tears of joy, but it’s a wonderful moment of my life that I’m able to come home to serve," Dr. Kowalik said.

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