Maine governor-elect gets rolling
First step to build transition team
AUGUSTA, Maine — Governor-elect Paul LePage announced yesterday the appointment of a transition advisory team of three dozen members who he said will turn the themes of his campaign into policy.
LePage, a Republican who succeeds John Baldacci, a Democrat, on Jan. 5, said the diverse group of volunteers will help identify skills needed by applicants for key administration positions as advisers wade through the roughly 1,000 applications already submitted.
“We are looking for the best and brightest without concern about political party or labels,’’ LePage told a State House press conference.
The new team includes Democrats, independents, and Republicans, he said. It also represents a variety of Mainers, from a carpenter, a forester, and political activists to business representatives, lawyers, and doctors.
John Butera, transition team cochairman, said the advisers would break into smaller groups taking up broad subject areas. One member, Cumberland District Attorney Stephanie Anderson, said she will offer advice in an area that could involve criminal justice, social services, and corrections.
Among other advisers are Bill Beardsley, one of LePage’s six GOP gubernatorial primary opponents and a former Husson University president, who hopes to offer his expertise in education and energy areas. Another member is Peter Geiger, executive vice president of the business that publishes the 194-year-old “Farmer’s Almanac.’’
LePage has not yet asked anyone occupying the roughly 150 positions he can fill in the Baldacci administration to resign, but has interviewed candidates for two positions, heads of the Conservation and the Public Safety departments. “And I’m not telling you who they are today,’’ he said.
Asked whether his mention of the Conservation Department implied that the new administration would not propose merging all of the state’s natural resources departments, a money-saving plan that has come up before, LePage said no such assumption should be made.
Tarren Bragdon, transition team cochairman, said later that even if a merger is contemplated in the future, individual commissioners of the departments of conservation, environmental protection, agriculture and other resource-based agencies would have to be appointed at least temporarily.
Transition team staff has already begun separating the applications for administration posts by levels of expertise and which jobs they are applying for, said LePage.