What Michigan Gov. Whitmer said about health director Robert Gordon’s abrupt resignation

17 cases of new variant confirmed in Washtenaw, Wayne counties

MDHHS Director Robert Gordon and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a Dec. 18, 2020, COVID-19 briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – When Michigan health director Robert Gordon abruptly resigned last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer only briefly mentioned him in a release announcing his replacement.

As a result, Whitmer was asked three separate times about Gordon during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing, and her answers remained somewhat guarded.

READ: 8 takeaways from Gov. Whitmer’s update on COVID-19 in Michigan

New MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel joined Whitmer for the briefing, but most of the questions were about Gordon.

In the release appointing Hertel, the only mention of Gordon was this line, at the end of the release: “Robert Gordon has resigned from his position, and the governor has accepted his resignation.”

“I want to thank Robert Gordon, and Director Hertel did, as well,” Whitmer said Monday. “To lead this department in unimaginable circumstances, it has been grueling, and on behalf of all the people in Michigan, I want to thank him for his service to our state. He worked hard to protect our public.”

Whitmer left it at that, and said she’s glad there was “another incredibly qualified person” to run the department.

New COVID variant in Michigan: 13 cases in Washtenaw County, 4 cases in Wayne County

The next questions was specifically about her relationship with Gordon.

“I don’t think I have anything to add with regard to my comments about the former director,” Whitmer said. “I’ve shared with you that I wish him well. I’m grateful for his leadership, and we’ve got a wonderful new director at the apartment, so we’re going to continue to forge ahead here.”

Whitmer was pressed one last time about whether she asked for Gordon’s resignation or whether it was expected.

“I think I’ve answered that question,” Whitmer said. “I think the only thing that I would say is it’s been a grueling couple of years, and changes in administrations happen. I wish Robert Gordon the very best. I truly do, and I am incredible grateful for the hard work and the way that he showed up every single day over these last few years. It has been a long, impossible-to-imagine experience, and I’m grateful that we had his leadership for two years and I’m wishing him very best-of-luck as he moves forward.”


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Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.