OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Monday voted unanimously to hire Tom Bates as its executive director, effective immediately.
Pardon and Parole Board Chairman Robert Gilliland said Bates is the “perfect person to serve as our executive director,” citing his decades of public service.
“I appreciate the confidence the board placed in me and look forward to working with each one of you and the staff,” Bates said.
Last week, the board met behind closed doors for 2½ hours to interview two candidates.
Bates served as special adviser to the governor and director of the Front Porch Initiative, which seeks better coordination across the state’s health and human services agencies.
From April 2018 until September 2019, he served as interim commissioner of health, getting the state Department of Health back on stable footing following allegations of financial mismanagement under prior leadership. He also led the agency through the early stages of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program.
He worked in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office from 1999 until 2014, serving as first assistant attorney general the last two years.
Bates, 51, holds both a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Oklahoma City University.
He replaces Steve Bickley, who resigned, saying a board member had threatened him for doing his job. The board approved a resolution recognizing Bickley’s service.
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