AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage announced two more Cabinet nominees Wednesday, choosing a former state senator and a businesswoman from northern Maine to fill key positions.

LePage chose former state Sen. Chandler Woodcock of Farmington, the Republican nominee for governor in 2006, to lead the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Cheryl Russell, who is from Chester, in Penobscot County, was nominated to lead the Department of Labor.

LePage is close to filling his Cabinet. If he announces his nominee for education commissioner today, the only vacancy will be in the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.

“We’re down to the wire,” LePage said during a news conference in the State House Cabinet Room. “We were hoping to get this done by inauguration day, but it’s been a very rigorous process. We’ve spoken to an awful lot of people.”

The nominations of Woodcock and Russell will be reviewed by legislative committees and face Senate confirmation votes.

The salary range for both positions is $70,616 to $102,689 a year. After nominees are confirmed, LePage sets their salaries.

LePage said Woodcock has a long history of involvement with wildlife issues, having served on the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. Woodcock was in the Senate from 2000-06 and served two terms on the committee.

Woodcock, 61, is a retired English teacher and high school basketball coach, and is now executive director of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association.

He is a former registered Maine Guide and a member of Brook Trout Maine. He has a bachelor’s degree in language arts/secondary education from the University of Maine at Farmington.

Woodcock, who wore a necktie rather than his signature bow tie Wednesday at the news conference, said he looks forward to protecting and enhancing the “sporting resource in Maine.”

“Our woods, waters and wildlife contribute significant dollars to Maine’s economy,” he said. “Addressing such issues as improved landowner relations, the necessity of expanding Maine’s white-tailed deer population through focused habitat management, protecting our native and wild brook trout … and protecting our waters from invasive species are examples of the many challenges facing the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.”

Russell, 52, spent 17 years working for Hanington Bros. Inc., a third-generation family logging company in Aroostook, Washington and Penobscot counties. She handled human resources, employee safety and incentive programs, budgeting, financial management and contract negotiations, according to the governor’s office.

She also is a former executive director of the Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business at Husson University, and worked for the American Loggers Council as executive director from 1996 to 2001. Currently, she is owner and president of Competitive Edge Consulting LLC.

Russell has a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Antioch University.

“We must … ensure that as Maine’s economy improves we have a skilled workforce to respond to that growth,” she said. “We must make certain that our career centers are entrepreneurial and the skills of our workforce meet the demands in the marketplace.”

She said the Maine Jobs Council, which focuses on workforce development, will be one of her top priorities.

“I think she’s going to do a very good job in bringing what is very needed at the Department of Labor, to get a better balance between labor and creating jobs for Maine people,” LePage said.

Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, said, “I’m hoping she will support the working men and women of northern Maine as well as southern Maine.” 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]