Bryan klipfel workforce safety insurance

Bryan Klipfel takes questions from the media when he was named commander of the North Dakota Highway Patrol today. Gov. John Hoeven today named Klipfel the new director at Workforce Safety and Insurance, replacing former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness, who was serving as an interim director. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid)

BISMARCK - Bryan Klipfel is the new executive director of Workforce Safety and Insurance, Gov. John Hoeven announced this morning.

Klipfel was commander of the North Dakota Highway Patrol from 2003 to 2007, when he retired to take a position at Job Service.

He will take over for former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness, the interim director for the past year.

Klipfel is the first gubernatorial appointee to the position since the mid-1990s. In 1997, the Legislature removed the workers compensation agency from the governor's cabinet and put it under the direction of an independent board. The board at first retained Gov. Ed Schafer's director, Pat Traynor, but after he left, the board went through a series of appointees, ending with Charles "Sandy Blunt," who was forced out in December 2007 and later convicted of mishandling WSI's funds.

The board named Furness the interim director a year ago. In November, voters returned the agency to the control of the governor.

North Dakota's House Republican majority leader said the choice of Klipfel is a big mistake.

Fargo Rep. Al Carlson told The Associated Press that Hoeven shouldn't have chosen someone with no background in insurance or workers compensation issues.

Hoeven says Klipfel has strong management and people skills. But Carlson said the director of WSI also should have some knowledge of what the agency does.