Life in a state capitol after a major election is a little like living in a snow globe–especially for those who serve at the pleasure of elected officials.
Everybody is all shaken up, wondering if the incoming elected officials will retain them when things settle down.
There are certainly no guarantees–even if the new elected official is of the same political party as the outgoing elected official.
In Olympia, state employees are welcoming a brand new governor, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor.
Changes at the top have a domino effect across all of state government. New agency heads mean new leadership teams and new support staff — and these changes ripple across an agency and across the state.
Following a long-standing tradition in the Attorney General’s Office, Attorney General Bob Ferguson chose to retain a number of senior leaders while bringing in fresh leadership familiar with his personal vision and priorities.
As we reach the end of our first month working together as a new team, here are a few tips that have helped ease the transition:
- Plan ahead: The Attorney General’s Office started planning for the transition for nearly a year in advance, developing clear and concise materials to help the new Attorney General and his team start their term. Our goal was to fit everything into one 3-inch binder for easy reference moving forward. AG Ferguson and his team received these materials shortly after the election so they could familiarize themselves with the inner workings of the office before inauguration day.
- Prepare to serve: After the election, I had the opportunity to meet with AG Ferguson and his new chief of staff to share how my team was prepared to help him launch his communications efforts. My team and I had identified all of the tools and communications strategies we had used to successfully support Attorney General McKenna–and we provided AG Ferguson a plan detailing how we could help him be successful. That plan guided us as we neared inauguration day so we were prepared to “flip the switch” on the Web site, social media and other tools as soon AG Ferguson was sworn in.
- Establish trust: In any new relationship, trust is key. Both the established staff and the new staff have done a great job of sharing information to help each other better serve our new Attorney General. For example, existing staff share lessons learned over our years with the office and new staff help us understand AG Ferguson’s style so we can better serve his communications needs.
- Work hard but be patient: Launching a new administration takes a lot of work. Aside from his day-to-day work reviewing legal decisions as the state’s top legal officer, AG Ferguson is manager, a policy maker and a leader. He and his team must meet with AGO leaders and staff, our state agency clients, legislators and other elected officials, the federal government, media and a variety of organizations. We have hundreds of decisions to make. We’re working hard but we also must be patient, prioritizing and recognizing we can’t do everything in the first month.
It’s a new day at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office–and we’re all working together to continue to serve the state of Washington with the highest level of professionalism and pride.