Gov. Mary Fallin decided to pass over Cathy Costello, the wife of previous Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, and instead appointed Melissa McLawhorn Houston as the state’s interim labor commissioner.
Mark Costello was stabbed to death by his own son in the parking lot of a Braum’s store on the northwest side of the metro back in August.
Houston has been the chief of staff and policy adviser for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt since 2011. Houston will serve out the remainder of Costello’s term, but has said she will not seek reelection to the position when it’s up in 2018.
"Melissa knows how to run a state agency and how to ensure the public is getting the most out of the dollars it invests," said Fallin.
"I know she is excited to build on Mark Costello's legacy of delivering a more efficient and effective state agency. Her expertise and experience in budget-management will be particularly important to the Labor Department during what is sure to be a challenging fiscal year for the state."
Houston said she was honored to be chosen.
Cathy Costello released the following statement following the appointment of Houston:
"Today, on what would be his 60th birthday, I received word that Melissa McLawhorn Houston has been appointed by Governor Mary Fallin to serve the unexpired term of my late husband Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello. The governor graciously contacted me in advance that she had decided to not appoint me as his replacement and I respect her decision. I believe that it is important for the people to have a strong voice as their Labor Commissioner and I am confident that the department will always strive to meet the needs of the people. Going forward, I remain committed to serving the people of Oklahoma and I look forward to working with the legislature and all of those who have supported me and our family during this ordeal to move our state forward."