Darcie Johnston out, Jeffrey Wennberg in at Vermonters for Health Care Freedom

Former Rutland City Mayor Jeffrey Wennberg will take the reins at the state’s highest-profile anti-single-payer organization.

Through radio spots, social media and on-the-ground outreach, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom has helped galvanize opposition to the health care reform legislation signed into law last year by Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Darcie Johnston, founder of the group, announced Thursday that she’ll be stepping aside to focus on her consulting business. Wennberg, who also served as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation under theDouglasadministration, will take over as executive director.

“The quality, availability and cost of health care affect us all. With so much at stake inMontpelier, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom is playing a vital role in informing Vermonters about this critical issue.,” Wennberg said in a statement. “The Administration cannot or will not answer questions about the cost of their proposal, who will be covered and how we will pay for it. Vermonters for Health Care Freedom is seeking the answers through expert counsel and by investigating and sharing the governor’s plans as they become known.”

Specifically, the group has been pushing for legislation that would force Shumlin to unveil a single-payer financing plan before the November elections. Shumlin has sought to delay talk about which tax will used to fund the public health care system until next January.

“What we do know of the governor’s reforms thus far is that they will harm our economy and our ability to retain and attract physicians,” Wennberg said. “Neither of those outcomes is good forVermont.”

Johnston, who founded the group last April, has been splitting time between running the organization and her own consulting firm.Johnstonclients include Republican candidate for governor Randy Brock, for whom Johnston is helping to fundraise.

“I am proud to have founded it, but the next step in its service to our state will take more time than I am able to commit due to my other obligations,” Johnston said in a written statement. “Jeff’s top-notch experience in management, issue advocacy and policy development will support this growing movement as Vermonters’ frustration mounts from a lack of answers to questions about the state’s health care plans.”