Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado has been appointed as Tennessee's new health commissioner, and will resign his seat in the legislature.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday appointed Alvarado to the position. The governor's office said he will resign his seat before taking his oath as Department of Health commissioner on Jan. 16. He will succeed Interim Commissioner Dr. Morgan McDonald.
Alvarado, R-Winchester, said in a statement Wednesday that his new role is "a chance to have an even more significant impact on public policy."
"In making the difficult decision to accept this offer, my focus remains on faith, family and public service," he continued. "I've ultimately determined that taking the role of commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health is the right thing for my family and me. Ultimately, it is an excellent opportunity to lead."
In a statement released Wednesday, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers said Alvarado will remain in his seat through the first week of the 2023 legislative session, which begins Jan. 3.
Alvarado will remain in his role "until he resigns or takes his oath of office in Tennessee’s executive branch," Stiver's statement said. A special election to fill the vacancy will happen at an undetermined time after Alvarado leaves.
“Senator Alvarado has been among the most effective legislators in the Kentucky General Assembly, and we have leaned trustingly on his expertise and insight on health policy matters and so much more," Stivers said. "His fingerprints are deeply embedded in the many successes Kentucky has experienced this past decade."
Alvarado is a well-known politician. He spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2016 and was selected by Gov. Matt Bevin as his running mate in his failed 2019 gubernatorial reelection bid. Alvarado said in May that he was considering jumping into next year's Kentucky governor's race.
He became the first Hispanic person elected to the Kentucky General Assembly after he won his Senate seat in 2014.
In the Kentucky state Senate, he served as Health and Welfare Committee chairman.
Alvarado is the CEO of Alvarado Medical Service in Kentucky. His medical license shows he specializes in internal medicine. Alvarado earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California. He completed his residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky.
Alvarado is co-chairman of the National Coalition of Physician Legislators. He is also a member of Kentucky Right to Life.
“Dr. Alvarado’s significant clinical and hospital management experience make him well-positioned to lead the Department of Health,” Lee in a news release announcing the appointment.
Courier Journal reporter Olivia Krauth contributed to this report.
Frank Gluck is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @FrankGluck.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Ralph Alvarado leaving Kentucky Senate to become Tennessee health chief