AUGUSTA — Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass resigned Wednesday and will likely be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Jeanne Paquette.

Winglass was confirmed by the Legislature in June 2011. He will remain in office until Paquette is confirmed.

His resignation isn’t entirely unexpected. Winglass, who is 76, agreed to take the position after a long search by the administration. Gov. Paul LePage originally nominated Cheryl Russell last year, but Russell withdrew her name from consideration before her confirmation hearings.

The administration said Winglass made a commitment to the governor to serve for one to two years.

Winglass recently sold his home in Bath, where his family is well known. His son Andy Winglass is a Bath city councilor who owns a popular restaurant, Mae’s Cafe. The administration said Winglass and his wife plan to move to their retirement home in Surry.

“I have been most fortunate to serve as Gov. LePage’s labor commissioner,” Winglass said in his announcement. “His strong, no-nonsense and determined leadership has charted a course that will restore fiscal balance, create substantial gains in the efficiencies of the public education system and create a work force second to none.”

Winglass, a Massachusetts native, had a long career as an officer in the Marine Corps, including three years as the commanding general of the 10,000 Marines and sailors of the 2nd Force Service Support Group based in Camp Lejeune, N.C. He retired as a lieutenant general in 1992.

In a prepared statement, LePage said, “The Department of Labor has made significant progress during the past year under his leadership, becoming more efficient and responsive to the needs of our people and businesses. I wish him well in his retirement.”

Paquette’s appointment will be reviewed by the Legislature’s Labor Committee. It will be subject to confirmation by the state Senate. The Legislature is expected to reconvene Sept. 6 to consider governor’s appointments.

Paquette has been the Department of Labor’s deputy commissioner since July 2011. She previously worked in human resources management and founded several industry-related publications and websites, including the Employment Times, HR Times and MyJobWave.com.

“Throughout my career I have focused on finding good people good jobs,” said Paquette in a prepared statement.

The department administers Maine’s unemployment insurance system and is responsible for ensuring the safety of public employees. It also provides work-force development leadership and vocational rehabilitation services throughout the state.

 

Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@mainetoday.com