Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is appointing a longtime public health leader to be the state's new commissioner of the State Department of Health.
Stitt announced Thursday that he named Gary Cox to the position and that he will begin the job on Friday. Cox's appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate when the Legislature reconvenes next year.
An attorney, Cox served most recently as executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department.
He replaces interim commissioner Tom Bates, who was tapped by Stitt last month to head up a new initiative by the governor's office to better integrate services provided by the state's different health and human services agencies.
Cox previously worked as an environmentalist, legal counsel and then for 15 years as director of the Tulsa Health Department.