Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner named former state Sen. James Meeks chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, as the Republican’s new cabinet and staff began taking shape Saturday.
Meeks, a Chicago Democrat, is pastor of Salem Baptist Church on the South Side, and his endorsement of Republican Rauner caused a stir.
“There comes a time that black people will have to shake up the Democratic Party because then, in the next election when they make us some promises, they will keep them,” Meeks told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell at the time.
He couldn’t be reached Saturday.
Gery Chico, who has headed the state board of education under Gov. Pat Quinn, said Saturday night he hadn’t heard about Meeks’ appointment to the unpaid post.“I like James, and I think he’ll do a fine job,” Chico said. “I was proud of the accomplishments that we had. We started to raise standards, introduced a lot of initiatives with accountability.”Rauner also nominated the head of a prison watchdog group to lead the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the agency that assumed control of Quinn’s $55 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative anti-violence program, which was dismantled during the campaign amid questions over its spending. Republican critics ripped it as a political slush fund. John Maki, who will head the authority, is the executive director of the John Howard Association of Illinois.
Also announced in Rauner’s “first wave” of appointments Saturday, Randy Blankenhorn will be secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. He is currently the executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. He worked at IDOT for 22 years, most recently as bureau chief of urban program planning.
Former state Rep. Jeff Mays, a Republican, will be director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security. He is the president of the Illinois Business Roundtable.
Candice Jones will continue as director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.
Tim Nuding will be director of the state Office of Management and Budget. Nuding previously was chief of staff to Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont.
Rauner also named four deputy chiefs of staff. Richard Goldberg will oversee legislative affairs, campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf will be in charge of communications, Aaron Winters will manage policy, and Kelley Folino will handle outreach.
Goldberg, Winters and Folino all previously worked for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
Brian Colgan, who was a senior adviser to former U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert and to Kirk, was named chief of staff to Lt. Gov.-elect Evelyn Sanguinetti.
Rauner also named Edward McMillan to the University of Illinois board of trustees.
The new governor takes office Monday.
He previously announced that Mike Zolnierowicz, his’s transition team director, will be his chief of staff. Zolnierowicz is a former deputy chief of staff to Kirk.
Other Rauner appointments announced Saturday:
• David Wu, director of government transformation.
• Jason Barclay, general counsel.
• Kathy Lydon, Washington, D.C., office director.
• Jim Clark, director of intergovernmental affairs.
• Edward Murphy, research director.
• Sarah Clamp, director of special projects.
• Holly Griff, executive assistant to the governor.
• Jared Melamed Dubnow, special assistant to the governor.
• Lance Trover, communications director.
• Catherine Kelly, press secretary.
• Lyndsey Walters, deputy press secretary.
• Allie Bovis, deputy press secretary
• Jacquelyn Reineke, press assistant.
• Joe Beyer, efficiency and metrics.
• Samantha Gaddy, policy adviser for public safety.
• Jennifer Hammer, special counsel to the governor and policy adviser for health care and human services.
• Michael Mahoney, policy adviser for revenue and pensions.
• Sean McCarthy, policy adviser for economic development.
• Alec Messina, policy adviser for environment and energy.
• Brian Oszakiewski, policy adviser for infrastructure.
• Randy Pollard, Downstate director.
• Janice Collier, director of diversity and recruitment.
• Marcos Peterson, director of Latino affairs.
• Ashley Kalus, coalitions coordinator.
• Dennis Jung, outreach coordinator.
• Joe Hartzler, special counsel.
• Mitch Holzrichter, deputy counsel.
• Dennis Murashko, deputy counsel.
• Emily Bastedo, associate counsel.
• Donovan Borvan, associate counsel.
• Chasity Boyce, associate counsel.
• Emily Gibellina, associate counsel.
• Georgia Mann, associate counsel.
• Joseph Wright, assistant counsel.
• Brittany Ladd, operations director.
• Grant Hammer, constituent affairs director.
• Jackie Lindsay, scheduling director.
• Laine Evans, advance director.
Contributing: Natasha Korecki