Baker, Healey pledge smooth transition of power

Despite party differences, both stress collaboration

REPUBLICAN GOV. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Wednesday stood side by side in the governor’s office with Democratic Gov.-elect Maura Healey and Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Driscoll and pledged a smooth transition of power between administrations.

Over the next couple of months, Baker said to Healey, “We’ll be working to make sure your team has all the tools they need for a smooth and productive transition.”

Healey expressed gratitude to Baker and Polito. “I appreciate the thoughtfulness and the work ethic that they brought and their teams have brought to so many issues over the last couple of years. I appreciate the time and thoughtfulness they and their team are bringing to ensuring a smooth transition,” Healey said.

Healey, who is currently attorney general, will take office as governor on January 5, after she defeated her Republican opponent Geoff Diehl in a landslide in Tuesday’s election. Baker, a more moderate Republican than the pro-Trump Diehl, did not endorse either candidate during the campaign and on Wednesday refused to say who he had voted for.

Baker, who did not seek reelection, has said his team has been preparing for the transition for several months. His transition team will be led by aides Tim Buckley and Elizabeth Mahoney, who were both part of Baker’s transition team after his first election as governor in 2014.

Healey announced Wednesday that she was tasking Driscoll with leading the transition. “She’s smart, experienced, and comes from the get-stuff-done wing of government,” Healey said.

Driscoll said the incoming administration has already set up a transition website, where anyone interested in applying for an administration job can submit their resume. Driscoll said she and Healey will be seeking a “diverse group of individuals” from inside and outside Massachusetts.

Baker pledged to have his cabinet secretaries and their teams sit down with Healey’s team and brief them on issues. He also invited Healey to attend an upcoming briefing on winter weather preparations. Other priority issues, Baker said, would be briefing Healey’s team on disaster response and emergency preparedness and on how to prepare their first state budget proposal, which will be due at the start of March 2023. The governor has offered the transition team workspace in the State House.

“We know the process can be stressful, and our aim is to make it as smooth and successful as possible,” Baker said.

The four met privately for about 40 minutes before holding a joint press conference. After the meeting, Baker, Polito, Healey, and Driscoll all planned to visit Girls, Inc. together, a Lynn nonprofit aimed at empowering girls.

One of the most moving moments of the press conference occurred when Polito noted the historic nature of Healey’s rise as the first woman elected Massachusetts governor. Polito said her then 9-year-old daughter sat next to Healey at Polito and Baker’s inauguration. Polito said Healey asked her daughter about her academics and her sports. “All through these eight years, she’s always asked about my daughter, and my daughter’s asked about you,” Polito said, turning to address Healey. “Coming into this new position as governor and lieutenant governor, you clearly will have an impact on the girls of this Commonwealth as you have had an impact on mine.”

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Shira Schoenberg

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

In many ways, Healey’s style at her first press conference as governor-elect mirrored that of Baker, with a stated focus on collaboration and teamwork. She did not get into the substance of issues. Neither Healey nor Baker were willing to talk politics, even when asked directly.

Asked whether she might move to the left politically now that the election is over, Healey said she will “leave that to the pundits,” but she was drawn to public service “to make life better for people.” Asked about differences between herself and Baker, Healey said only that there would be both similarities and differences, but “we have a lot of mutual respect for one another.” And she quipped, alluding to their respective heights, the microphones will be lower.

Baker, asked about the failure of Republican candidates he backed, including auditor candidate Anthony Amore and state Senate candidate Shawn Dooley, also declined to talk politics. “The voters spoke. That’s what elections are for,” Baker said. Asked about the future of the state Republican Party, which has swung far to the right of Baker under party chairman Jim Lyons, he again declined to answer. “She’s still the AG, I’m still the governor, I’ve got a job I’ve got to do for the next 58 days, then we can talk about it,” Baker said.