You don’t necessarily have to be a political hack to land one of the 3,100 state jobs that Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom will get to fill when he takes office.
You might have to give up your personal life to do it, though.
“Plan on having no life and working all the time,” said Richard Costigan, who worked for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as legislative director and for Gov. Jerry Brown as a member of the State Personnel Board.
If that sounds like fun, Newsom has a job for you. He’s soliciting applications at his campaign website, https://gavinnewsom.com/get_involved, and he says he’s looking for “diverse voices and talents” to run state government.
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Republicans are welcome to apply for jobs in the Democrat’s administration, his campaign said.
“I encourage any Californian who wants to help shape the future of the state to reach out through our ‘All In California’ website to send us their input and ideas – and apply for positions in public service,” Newsom said in a written statement.
So far, Newsom has announced just two appointments, naming Clinton White House veteran Ann O’Leary as his chief of staff and fromer state Finance Director Ana Matosantos as his cabinet secretary. They’re key positions for people who will help him pick other executives and set the tone for his administration.
That leaves thousands of other positions on the table. Some are high-powered department executives who will shape environmental, criminal justice and health policy. All together, the governor picks 850 full-time positions.
The other 2,250 are positions of varying responsibility on boards and commissions overseeing subjects like pesticides, teacher credentials and horse racing.
They won’t all turn over at the same time.
Costigan said Schwarzenegger kept many appointees from Gov. Gray Davis because they had expertise that the Republican did not have at the time. Brown, similarly, retained some of Schwarzenegger’s staff.
Still, recent turnover among state government executives suggests that some of Brown’s top department leaders are already making plans for new careers or retirement.
Six California agencies and departments have acting executives because their leaders have recently moved on to new jobs or retired. Newsom will get to decide whether to make their appointments permanent. Brown also appointed nine other directors to lead departments over the past year.
Mona Pasquil, Brown’s appointments secretary for the past years, has tried to demystify the process for applying for jobs in California’s executive branch.
She said she reviewed every resume, and encouraged people to apply even if they had political differences with Brown. She said Californians outside of government often are surprised that they don’t have to work for a political campaign to get hired by a governor.
“The common thread among all of us has been the willingness to dig in try something new and ask uncomfortable questions,” she said.
She added, “We have found phenomenal people who never would have thought they wanted to serve in an administration.”
Some longtime Capitol employees say people who want to work for a governor would benefit from learning the steps the Legislature takes to pass a bill and to get a sense of how the governor’s office crafts a budget.
“Learning the budget or even learning how to do legislative analysis will make you ... invaluable,” said Chuck Pattillo, who is retiring after leading the state Prison Industry Authority since 2007. He previously worked in the Legislature.
Costigan, the former Schwarzenegger legislative director, said he “wasn’t prepared for was the sheer amount of time that was involved” in working directly for a governor.
“You have thousands of advocates that all want to come in and talk to you, and you have to know literally everything that’s going on because you are advising a governor.”
His advice to Newsom’s new staff: “Take as many meetings as you can, read as much as you can, and be willing to say ‘I don’t know.’”