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Polis names transition teams and chief of staff

Author: Marianne Goodland - November 9, 2018 - Updated: November 13, 2018

Lisa Kaufmann, who served as Jared Polis’ campaign chair, will be his chief of staff as governor. (Andy Colwell / Colorado Politics)

Gov.-elect Jared Polis announced Friday the key members of his transition teams as well as who’ll serve as chief of staff in his administration.

Getting the nod for chief of staff: Lisa Kaufmann of Lyons, who chaired the Polis gubernatorial campaign. She also served as Polis’ chief of staff in Congress from 2014 to 2017 and has worked in one capacity or another with Polis since 2008.

Kaufmann also is a co-founder of New Era Colorado, a nonprofit “dedicated to engaging, educating, and training a new generation of active citizens and young leaders in Colorado.” Another co-founded of New Era is state Sen. Steve Fenberg of Boulder, the architect of the Democrats’ sweep of five critical Senate races that gave the Dems the majority in the state Senate Tuesday night.

“Lisa is a superb manager, an excellent strategist, and has a terrific policy mind,” Polis said Friday. “Lisa is committed to serving Colorado and will work tirelessly to help turn our bold vision for expanding opportunity for Colorado families into reality.”

The Polis transition teams also were revealed on Friday. Seven teams, each with two co-chairs, will examine “opportunities to improve how state government works and build an inclusive team with diverse experience to serve in the Polis-Primavera Administration, bringing a broad range of expertise and perspectives to state leadership,” an announcement said.

“Over the next 60 days, a group of more than 60 experts in their field, community leaders, and Coloradans representing the broad diversity of our state will be helping us prepare to take on these challenges,” the announcement said.

Those transition teams also are looking for volunteer help. The Polis transition team put out the call Friday for interested Coloradans to sign up at www.BoldlyForward.co. The deadline for signing up is next Thursday, Nov. 15, and additional team members will be announced on Friday, Nov. 16.

The Keystone Policy Center, which is headed by former Hickenlooper administration lobbyist and state Rep. Christine Scanlan, will coordinate transition activities.

The transition teams are:

  • Transportation, infrastructure and local affairs. Co-chairs are former Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran of Denver and former House Minority Leader Sal Pace of Pueblo. The team also includes Rutt Bridges, Tim Mauck and Dr. FLorine Raitano. Bridges is best known as one of the millionaire “Gang of Four” (which also included Polis) who helped Democrats take control of the General Assembly in the 2004 elections and the founder of the Bighorn Center for Public Policy; Mauck is a Clear Creek County commissioner. The team’s tasks include broadband, the Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
  • Economic development and labor, led by Gary Arnold and John Tayer. The team will oversee transitions related to the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and the Department of Labor and Employment. Arnold is business manager for Local 208 of the Pipefitters Union. Tayer is president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.
  • Consumer services, with co-chairs Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and former Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio. The team also includes U.S. Rep.-elect Joe Neguse of Boulder; Wanda James, CEO of Simply Pure, a recreational marijuana dispensary; former Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst; and Ramona Martinez, former president of the Denver City Council. The team will take charge of the Office of Information Technology, and the departments of revenue, regulatory affairs (Neguse is a former executive director) and personnel and administration.
  • Health and human services, led by Dr. Malik Hasan, founder and CEO of NuVue Pharma and former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, CEO of Mental Health Colorado. The team includes Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs and former Hickenlooper chief of staff Roxane White. They will work on transitions for the departments of human services, health care policy and financing, public health and environment and the Colorado Division of Insurance, which is part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
  • Energy, natural resources and agriculture, chaired by former Gov. Bill Ritter, director of the Center for the New Energy Economy; and Andrew Currie. The transition team will include Jim Alexee, director of the Colorado Sierra Club; former Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones; former Commissioner of Agriculture and water policy guru John Stulp; and Tim Marquez, former CEO of oil and gas company Venoco. The team will lead transition work on the Colorado Energy Office, the departments of agriculture and natural resources, and the Department of Public Health & Environment.
  • It’s Polis’ choice for his education team that may get the most attention, in part because it includes former state Sen. Mike Johnston, who ran against Polis in the primary and, like Polis, is a proponent of charter school education. The team is chaired by Al Yates, former president of Colorado State University; and Elaine Gantz Berman, a former member of the Colorado State Board of Education.The team also includes Dan Ritchie, formerly chancellor of the University of Denver; Amie Baca-Ohlert, president of the Colorado Education Association; Jen Walmer, who heads Democrats for Education Reform in Colorado; former state Sen. Polly Baca; Michael Carrigan, a former member of the CU Board of Regents; former Denver Post chairman Dean Singleton; and former U.S. Rep. Schaffer, a proponent of taxpayer-funded vouchers for private education and the chairman of the board of the Leadership Program of the Rockies. The team is responsible for transitions at the Colorado Department of Higher Education and on education policy.
  • Finally, Sheriff Joe Pelle of Boulder County will lead the transition team on public safety, military and corrections, along with Dr. Regina Brown of the CU School of Medicine. The team also includes Rosemary Lytle, president of the Colorado NAACP; and tech entrepreneur Taylor McLamore of Boulder. The team is responsible for the departments of public safety, corrections and military and veterans affairs.

Correction: to correct the spelling of Amie Baca-Ohlert of CEA.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.