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Gov.-elect Inslee announces list of 34 transition advisers, including a few old hands from Olympia

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on Nov. 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm with No Comments »
November 28, 2012 4:21 pm

Gov.-elect Jay Inslee has tapped a few old hands from Olympia for his new 34-member transition committee, including a few who helped his campaign. But he’s also tapped a couple of prominent Republicans, including former five-term secretary of state Ralph Munro, a slew of business leaders and he has been consulting former governors.

Inslee’s full transition committee list is here. The actors with the most inside-Olympia experience include state Labor Council president Jeff Johnson, Washington Federation of State Employees leader Greg Devereux, and state firefighters’ leader Kelly Fox. The emerging transition team, which is co-chaired by Microsoft chief counsel Brad Smith and two others,also has such long-time Olympia insiders as Sen. Lisa Brown, a Spokane Democrat. Brown until recently served as Senate majority leader.

Also on the committee is Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association, which backed Inslee.

Another campaign-connected member is Brendon Cechovic, executive director of the Seattle-based Washington Conservation Voters, which did a lot of doorbelling and advocacy to help Inslee’s win over Republican Rob McKenna. County elections officials certified  that Inslee won by 96,557 votes on Tuesday, the same day his campaign released its list of advisers.

Appearing to be missing from the Inslee transition list are people who obviously meet the test laid out by Inslee on the campaign trail for the kind of folks he’ll eventually hire to run agencies. He said he wanted “disruptive” agents likely to bring change to the culture of Olympia.

But asked about that today, Inslee transition spokesman Sterling Clifford rejected what he called “the premise of the question,” explaining that Inslee’s committee includes a broad range of people from inside and outside government and from around the state.

“There are people there who are knowledgeable about state and local government already and also people who hadn’t been part of it,’’ Clifford said. “There was an effort to reach out to knowledgeable people in a variety of subject areas. Some are Republicans, some are Democrats.’’

So far, there is little evidence of a rehash of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s team.

The list includes Munro, as mentioned, and Jamestown S’Klallam tribal chairman Ron Allen, both of whom are Republicans.

Inslee included quite a few faces from the Northwest business world – Gary Kaplan, chief executive at the Virginia Mason Health System who has been a pioneer in “Lean” management, which Inslee promises to use in a big way; John Begley, chief executive from Harbor Paper; Louise Chernin, chief executive of the Greater Seattle Business Association; Maud Daudon, chief executive of Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce; Marty Dickinson, executive vice president of Spokane-based Sterling Financial Corp.; Cris Guillen, founder of the Association of Washington Hispanic Chambers of Commerce; Kimberly Harris, chief executive for Puget Sound Energy; Orin Smith, a former state budget director and businessman; and others.

There also are local-government figures such as Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart. And bringing yet another perspective is Somerieh Amirfaiz, executive director of the Refugee Women’s Alliance.

The group of 34 meets for the first time in Seattle on Thursday afternoon, and Clifford said Inslee wants to talk to the members about what he’s looking for them to do as they are assigned to one or more of nine working groups. Some groups are broken down by state agency department or policy area.

Clifford said the first goals are to fill staff positions in the Governor’s Office, which starts with chief of staff, and cabinet positions.

“We have a thorough process to get the best people for all of those positions,’’ he said. “There will be a national search for some agencies; for others we’re hoping for more specialized experience. Some agencies will be run by acting directors for some time.’’

That suggests some current agency heads would be expected to step down or at least offer their resignations.

Munro, a long-time moderate, said he was both surprised by pleased to be called and invited by Inslee, and he wants to help make sure the next governor is successful. But Munro was waiting to learn what he can Thursday about his new transition role.

“I feel honored to be asked. He seemed very sincere in his belief this should be bipartisan,” Munro said of Inslee. “I was surprised when he called. The main point that Gov.-elect Inslee made when he called me was they want talent … I think they want to know all the best skills to get started, the pitfalls … This is the sixth governor I’ve known or worked with.’’

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