Polis’ first hire is one of his longtime staffers. What about the rest?

Gov.-elect Jared Polis has two months to hire dozens of people, a series of decisions that will shape the arc of his administration and show how his approach compares to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s.

On Friday morning, he got started. One of his first hires was Lisa Kaufmann as chief of staff for the governor’s office. Kaufmann has worked with Polis since his first campaign for Congress in 2008, including as the congressman’s Colorado chief of staff and the chair of his gubernatorial campaign. She co-founded New Era Colorado, a nonprofit that recruits young leaders.

Polis also will choose leaders to head Colorado’s departments and agencies. Hickenlooper’s office lists 19 of those positions, ranging from corrections to education and energy.

The governor-elect will have some help with that: His campaign on Friday announced the formation of a transition team that will be responsible for “helping us find strong leaders to become part of the Polis Administration and, with fresh eyes, examining how state government currently works. …”

The transition team includes former governors Bill Ritter and Roy Romer and Congressman-elect Joe Neguse, all Democrats, along with former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, a Republican, and a mix of former state lawmakers and other leaders.

The biggest question will be where Polis looks for new hires, according to independent political analyst Eric Sondermann.

“Each governor has their own style, in terms of how many people they personally know that they want to bring into government,” Sondermann explained. Polis might hire people from his Congressional office and his campaign, like Kaufmann, but he also may “want to do an exhaustive search, statewide and nationally, to find the best person.”

Polis also will hire his office staff, including for positions such as press secretary.

And, despite the fact that Hickenlooper and Polis both are Democrats, governors tend to bring on mostly new staff, according to Sondermann. “While Hickenlooper has clearly supported Polis here, the two have never been really close,” Sondermann said. “They’re stylistically very different and substantively different on issues.”

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Transitions usually go smoothly, especially within the same party. But observers will closely watch Polis’ picks for departments that deal with fracking, such as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“That’s a case where historically Polis and Hickenlooper have had …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics


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