Gov.-elect Jay Inslee introduced five more members of his growing Cabinet today, announcing new agency heads for the departments of Social and Health Services, Retirement Systems, Labor and Industries, Employment Security and Veterans Affairs. He also told reporters at the Associated Press legislative forum he still thinks he can stick by his no-new-taxes pledge — although he does think closing tax loopholes is an option.
The personnel moves are the latest in a series of recent hires by Inslee, a Democrat — as reported here and here. Three of the five newest hires are promotions of people currently working in state agencies. Inslee had said in his campaign he would look for people outside state government and bring new perspectives to agencies.
The one new hire who is a true outsider to state government is Dale Pienecke, who will take over as Employment Security commissioner. Pienecke is described as a chief executive at Giddens Industries, an Everett based aerospace firm who was past chairman of the Snohomish County Workforce Development group.
The biggest state agency — Department of Social and Health Services, a leviathan with roughly 16,000 employees — will be headed by Kevin Quigley. He is a former state senator from Everett, who also led a shipyard firm and is a lawyer. He replaces Robin Arnold-Williams, who left to teach at the University of Washington.
Joel Sacks, a deputy commissioner at the Employment Security Department is headed to Labor and Industries to fill the vacancy left by Judy Schurke, who announced her resignation last year.
Two other appointments — Marcie Frost at Retirement Systems and Alfie Alvarado-Ramos at Veterans Affairs — are promotions of deputy directors to top positions. Inslee says Frost has a background in “Lean” management, the Toyota-style approach to rooting out waste that Inslee says is a criteria in all his hiring considerations.
“I’m very pleased by the caliber of talent and expertise these men and women will be bringing to my team,” Inslee said in a news release. “They understand my vision of bringing change to Olympia and bring an exciting blend of public and private sector experience that will serve the people of Washington State well.”
Although a few of the appointees show Democratic leanings with donations to Inslee or outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire or both, state campaign finance records show Pienecke donated more to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna ($250) than to Inslee ($150) last year.
As he readies to take the reins of government at noon next Wednesday, Inslee also plans to name a State Patrol chief tomorrow. Earlier this week he announced he has hired David Schumacher, a former Senate budget committee director, to run his Office of Financial Management and a week ago he announced other key personnel moves.
The Washington State Republican Party said in an email to reporters that it appears Inslee is “keeping the status quo and Olympia insiders as his closest advisors” in all but nine hires so far.
Also today, Inslee foreshadowed four economic proposals he hopes to pursue — including a business-occupations tax break for small startups and a transferrable or “trade-able” tax credit for high-tech startups not yet making a profit.
“My focus is job creation. I’m going to focus like a laser beam on the things a governor can do” to help businesses, he said.