HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor-elect David Ige has less than one month before he takes office on December 1, so he has plenty to do before then.
"This is probably the shortest transition period in the whole United States," said John Waihee, who served two terms as Hawaii's governor from 1986 to 1994. "He's got one month to put together his administration or at least the framework for it."
Ige will need to assemble a transition team to help him decide who to hire for 41 director and deputy director positions in 16 state departments.
Ige also must decide how many political appointees from fellow Democrat Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration will remain in their positions or be assigned different jobs in his administration.
"But the main thing is to realize that you're the governor," Waihee said. "And you need to put your stamp on all of this, because people are looking toward the new governor for some sense of leadership."
The governor's office has a staff of 35 political appointees, including policy and communications personnel, along with eight staffers spread throughout the neighbor islands. The governor also has the power to appoint dozens of executive assistants and other full-time employees, as well as volunteer members on state boards and commissions as the incumbent members' terms expire.
State law says the governor must submit his budget to the legislature just three weeks after he takes office, on Dec. 22, meaning most of that proposal will be Abercrombie's budget and Ige's administration will have to propose some changes when lawmakers convene in January.
For the last four years, Ige chaired the Senate's Ways and Means committee, overseeing the state budget.
"David's got a foot up because he was Ways and Means and he probably went through a lot of this. But nonetheless, you need to get a feel of what you're going to keep and what you're not," Waihee said. "Usually the Legislature gets it after someone else proposes it. So they're in a sense, reacting. In this case, he's going to have to propose it."
Ige's campaign spokeswoman Lynn Kenton said the campaign spent all its efforts on getting him elected, so now his campaign must immediately begin working on the transition.
Ige was not available to reporters Wednesday because he was spending the day with his family, Kenton said. His three college-aged children flew to Hawaii over the weekend for the last few days of the campaign and were all flying out Wednesday afternoon to return to their colleges on the East Coast, she said.
Ige plans to do media interviews on Thursday, Kenton said.