Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

John Hickenlooper making appointments fast -- but only half as many as when he was mayor

John Hickenlooper is moving fast to build his administration. Since December 31, he's announced more than a dozen appointments, including three yesterday alone: Barbara Kelley will remain as director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, Larry Trujillo will continue as head of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security, and James Davis will become the executive director of the Department of Public Safety.

There are more announcements to come -- but not as many as Hickenlooper got to make when he became mayor of Denver.

Hickenlooper had an eye on Denver's budget from the beginning and never filled as many full-time spots as he could have -- up to 65, according to the Denver City Charter, including ten cabinet officers, five other charter officers (including police and fire chief), and fifty other positions selected by the mayor.

The governor of Colorado gets to make about half that number of full-time appointments. That's one of the reasons some political pundits consider the office of governor less powerful than the office of Denver mayor (and then there's that pesky legislature the governor must deal with, compared to the relative cake walk of handling Denver City Council).

But there are also a host of part-time and unpaid state spots that Hickenlooper will be able to fill. Evan Dreyer, spokesman for Governor Bill Ritter, puts the number of full-time gubernatorial appointees at about thirty. "Although there are some commissioners who are paid, the vast, vast, vast majority are all volunteer," he says.

Right now, the governor-elect is focusing on filling the major slots, working off the reports from 23 issue committees and endless interviews. "We'd like as many cabinet picks in place as possible by Tuesday," says spokesman Eric Brown. "That may or may not happen."

Still want to throw your hat in before inauguration day? The details are posted on, but here are the "Personal and Professional Qualities Required."

• A high degree of customer focus and responsiveness.

• Management and leadership experience with an emphasis on reorganization, downsizing, streamlining and restructuring to increase efficiency (preferred over experience in developing or initiating new programs).

• Ability to manage, not avoid, conflict.

• Experience with media and stakeholder relations and transparent in management and staff communications.

• Ability to take input from a variety of stakeholders and work well with the Governor's team, including Cabinet and staff.

More from our Calhoun:Wake-Up Call archive: "Michael Hancock has a lucky address in his run for Denver mayor."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun