BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor-elect John Bel Edwards held a press conference Monday afternoon to announce two key appointments to his administration.
Edwards announced the appointment of Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne as the Commissioner of Administration and Kimberly Robinson as the Secretary of the Department of Revenue.
Dardenne, who has spent the last four years as Lt. Governor, endorsed Edwards after losing his bid for Governor in the October primary election.
Both Dardenne and Edwards adamantly deny the appointment was a tradeoff for Dardenne's support. The Lt. Governor said he had retirement on his mind at the time of the endorsement. However, Political analyst Jim Engster says the move did not surprise many.
"Jay Dardenne is very qualified, the question is why did he want to do it? He could have made a lot more money as an attorney, but he obviously felt the call of public service," said Engster.
"Jay knows exactly what honest, balanced budgeting looks like. But more importantly he knows the work it takes to get a responsible budget passed," says Edwards. "He will be able to draw on his knowledge and relationships to make sure we propose and pass a budget that is truly worthy of the people of Louisiana."
Dardenne says that he will start tomorrow working with the current commissioner on planning and preparing for a special session to address the current budget issues.
Robinson has previously served as a liaison between the Office of the Governor and the Departments of Revenue and Economic Development. She has also worked as a senior policy adviser on economic development, insurance and revenue policy.
"To address the serious budget challengers our state faces, we need talented professionals in place who understand the complexities of our current tax structure and how to simplify it," says Edwards. "Kimberly is the right person at the right time to lead the Department of Revenue. For 15 years, she has immersed herself in tax policy and I am excited to have her join this administration to lead this agency at one of the most critical times in our state's history."
Engster also points out that naming a Republican as well as an African American woman shows Edwards is intent on building a diverse administration moving forward.
Last week, Edwards named Richard Carbo his chief spokesman. Carbo starts working for Edwards today and will stay on as communications director when the new governor takes office. Edwards has also formed four transition committees to focus on fiscal matters, higher education, healthcare, and economic development.