Polis' 1st controversy as governor-elect: His picks for education transition team

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis at a pre-election event earlier in 2018.

Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis on Thursday announced who will advise him on legislation and various policy areas — and many of the names will be familiar to those who follow Democratic state politics.

Eve Lieberman, Congressman Polis' chief of staff, will serve as the new governor's top adviser on policy and legislative counsel, and as the manager of the legislative and policy departments.

Joining her as legislative director is David Oppenheim, who was chief of staff for both Democratic Speakers of the House Mark Ferrandino* and Crisanta Duran. He most recently worked as the Colorado state director of the national progressive organization State Innovation Exchange.

Former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy will serve as a senior adviser for fiscal policy, and will look at long-term creative fiscal policy solutions. Kennedy most recently served as CFO for the city of Denver. She was also one of Polis' opponents in the June Democratic primary.

Wade Buchanan, who started the Bell Policy Center, a progressive think tank, will join the Polis team as policy director. He most recently served on Gov. John Hickenlooper's executive team as a senior adviser on aging. Buchanan also served as policy director for Gov. Roy Romer.

Maria De Cambra will become the director of communications and community engagement. De Cambra comes to the administration from the public affairs firm Hilltop Public Solutions; she is also a former mayor pro-tem of Westminster and was the managing director at the Campaign for a Strong Colorado, a progressive politics nonprofit.

Kate Siegel Shimko, a Polis staffer and his national finance director, will become director of boards and commissions.

Danielle Oliveto, a former Polis campaign associate and staffer, will join Lisa Kaufmann, his chief of staff, as deputy chief of staff. She has been in San Francisco for the past four years, working on sustainability issues with Leadership for a Clean Economy and as a director of operations for a board member with the San Francisco transit agency BART.

The Polis administration intends to keep on a couple of members of the Hickenlooper executive team. That includes Jacki Cooper Melmed, who has been Hickenlooper's chief legal counsel since 2015; she will serve in that same capacity for Polis. And Lauren Larson, who was appointed director of the governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting last June, will continue in that role for Polis.

Correction: Oppenheim worked for Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino. An earlier version of this story said he worked for a different speaker.

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