Club 20’s Brown picked for Hickenlooper Cabinet
Reeves Brown will head the Colorado Department of Local Affairs after Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper takes office next week, the Hickenlooper’s transition team announced Monday.
Brown, executive director of Club 20 for the past 10 years, said he likes the idea of having a stronger voice in protecting the severance tax revenue that the department doles out to local communities.
The recent economy has forced Gov. Bill Ritter and state legislators to dip into some of that money over the past few years, something Reeves has spoken out against numerous times.
“Up to this point, Governor Ritter, despite the massive cuts that he and the Legislature had to make, they’ve been able to protect the integrity of the direct distribution of funds that are intended to mitigate the direct impacts of development,” Brown said. “It’s been the discretionary grant funds that have been cut, and cut fairly significantly. We still have some revenue issues, but as executive director of DOLA, I’m certainly going to be championing keeping those monies intact for the intended purposes.”
Though Brown describes himself as “not a very good Republican,” he said he was scared but excited about working for Hickenlooper. He said the Democrat, who is mayor of Denver, has already proven that he intends to reach across the state in searching for people to run his government. Brown is the sixth person Hickenlooper has chosen to serve in key administration jobs who live outside of the Denver metropolitan area.
Brown said that at least for now, he will continue to live in Grand Junction, working out of DOLA’s office in town most of the week.
He said he wanted to do that primarily because he doesn’t want to uproot his children from their schools. He has two sons at Fruita Monument High School and a fourth-grade daughter at Wingate Elementary School.
“We’re happy with Grand Junction being our home, and the kids are in good schools,” Brown said. “I would work out of the Denver office three days a week. It’s kind of experimental, a non-traditional approach to a position like this. Our family will re-evaluate that in June and see if we’re still striking the appropriate balance as far as our priorities go.”
He said one of his sons is ready to move to Denver, but the other isn’t, while the daughter could go either way.
Though Hickenlooper will be inaugurated as governor next week, Brown said he won’t take the job until Feb. 1 because he wants to give Club 20 time to find a replacement.
The group plans to advertise the job this week and hopes to hire someone by the end of the month, he said.
Brown’s appointment makes him the third Republican to be asked to work in Hickenlooper’s administration. The other two are state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, who is to be the new head of the Colorado Tourism Office, and Sue Birch, executive director of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. Birch, who lives in Steamboat Springs, is to be executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.
Though none of those appointments drew any criticism from Republican lawmakers, another of Hickenlooper’s Cabinet appointments on Monday did.
Ellen Golombek’s appointment as executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment drew comments from Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, who said she is “a noted progressive activist and union boss.”
Golombek is Colorado state director for America Votes, a national group that works to improve voter turnout, but one that also pushes progressive policies.
“Governor-elect Hickenlooper’s appointment to the department of labor may certainly take some of the air out of the bipartisan atmosphere he has promised to promote,” Kopp said in a statement. “This appointment seems to be a complete reversal of that policy.”
Hickenlooper also has offered the job of state agriculture commissioner to U.S. Rep. John Salazar, but the 3rd Congressional District Democrat, who lost his re-election bid in November to state Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, has not yet accepted the position.