Hickenlooper picks a team that spans the state, and party lines

John Hickenlooper

Club 20 President Reeves Brown was surprised to see who else Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper had named to his transition team Monday.

In addition to himself, Brown said the people he named to 16 statewide panels and 23 issue committees hail from all parts of the state and don’t favor any political party or ideology.

“What a novel idea,” Brown said, not attempting to hide his sarcasm. “Wouldn’t it be great if every governor who represented Colorado came in with a team that actually represented Colorado. It’s unfortunate that it is a surprise, but it is a surprise.”

Brown is one of 16 people from around the state who will head various aspects of Hickenlooper’s transition from Gov. Bill Ritter.

Though the two men are both Democrats, they seem to be approaching their governorships differently, Brown said.

“You look at it and it’s not Denver-centric, and its not party-centric either. It’s a great group,” said Brown, who will be heading up the transition team’s natural resources panel. “I’m excited about the very genuine effort the governor-elect is making to include all four corners of the state in his administration. I’m very encouraged by that.”

The list of names reads as a who’s who among state leaders, from government to business, environmentalists to oil and gas executives.

And as Hickenlooper repeatedly promised during his campaign, it also doesn’t favor any one political ideology.

As a result, the panel includes such prominent Republicans as former Gov. Bill Owens and former congressman and State Board of Education member Bob Schaffer.

Unlike Ritter’s transition team appointments four years ago, Hickenlooper’s earned him praise from Republicans in the Colorado Legislature.

“We applaud Governor-elect Hickenlooper for naming Governor Owens as a co-chair of his transition team,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, R-Littleton. “We hope the governor-elect will continue to surround himself with individuals with a proven track record of finding efficiencies, eliminating government waste and streamlining regulatory policies to encourage business growth.”

Two other Western Slope appointees said they fully expect that to be the case.

Sue Birch, executive director of the Steamboat Springs-based Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurses Association, will be overseeing the panel dealing with the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

She said the recent recession and skyrocketing health care costs mandate the need to find more efficiencies in state health programs.

“There are some unique circumstances that affect the rural, West Slope communities, so I’m delighted they’ll be hearing my voice on those issues,” Birch said. “We will help the governor find solutions to run the government programs more efficiency and more effectively. I think the governor-elect is very realistic about wanting to rein in health care costs.”

During the campaign, Hickenlooper spoke about making government more efficient partly by increasing the use of public-private partnerships to help those government can’t always reach, said Paul Major, president of the Telluride Foundation.

Major was tapped to be on one of the 23 issue committees, which for him will focus on local affairs. Other issue committees will focus on education, government regulations, public health, prisons and employment.

His foundation, one of 14 in the state, acts as a kind of clearinghouse to match private donations with local nonprofit groups, covering everything from preventative health care to early childhood development.

“The outcome of this transition process is to develop a list of opportunities and challenges in these subareas, and develop that from the public,” Major said. “We have a huge diversity of issues on the Western Slope, so the key is to get people to participate in this process and voice ideas.”

To help do that, the transition teams will host 11 rural meetings over the next few weeks, including one in Grand Junction. That regional meeting will be held Nov. 20, but a location has yet to be determined.


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