In early November, Government Technology reported on the shifts in the states’ political landscape and what those changes might mean for CIOs across the country. Now, with the dust mostly settled and new administrations firmly seated in their respective capitals, we all have a better idea of how the chips fell.
For some, a new governor meant a hunt for a new job. Others get another term to do the work that needs to be done. Whatever the case may be, significant shifts occurred that are worth noting. Of the 12 gubernatorial races, one-third of them have resulted in change-ups in the C suite.
The tumultuous exit of former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory for Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper did, in fact, signal the end of CIO Keith Werner’s time in state government. Though the incoming administration asked the former CIO for his assistance in the administrative transition, he was ultimately asked to resign to make way for new leadership Jan. 25. Werner told Government Technology that he would be considering potential careers in the private sector. Danny Lineberry, formerly a senior IT program adviser for the department, has since taken over the responsibilities of state CIO in an acting capacity.
In North Dakota, word that a leadership shakeup from Gov. Doug Burgum was coming prompted former CIO Mike Ressler to retire from the state to pursue private-sector opportunities. Though it was unclear how the situation would play out just a day after the election, the announcement that Ressler would be stepping aside to make way for interim CIO Dan Sipes came in late December. Ressler served as state CIO since 2013. Prior to being tapped to lead the state’s IT shop, Sipes served as the deputy CIO and director of operations.
The state's flop from blue to red was an almost certain indicator of a shakeup for now former Commissioner Richard Boes. According to the Vermont Department of Information and Innovation website, Boes has been replaced by Commissioner Darwin Thompson as of January, according to Boes' LinkedIn profile. Boes was first appointed to the position by Gov. Peter Shumlin in June 2011. Prior to being named as state CIO by Republican Gov. Phil Scott, Thompson served more than five-and-a-half years as the state’s deputy commissioner.
As Government Technology reported Jan. 31, incoming Gov. Jim Justice named longtime public servant John Dunlap to replace Gale Given as West Virginia’s CTO. Despite the state’s blue alignment in the 2016 election, the expiration of former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s term resulted in this change. Given had served in the role since 2012, and Dunlap served as the Office of Technology’s director of infrastructure.
As for the other eight states, some stack neatly into the category of “safe-ish,” while others remain to be seen. States like Delaware, Indiana, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington seem to show no immediate signs of C suite upset.
In Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington, voters re-elected incumbent governors, signaling fairly smooth waters ahead for the sitting state CIOs.
There is more question, however, about the future of CIOs in states like Delaware and Indiana, where party ideology held, but the governors changed. While the gubernatorial shift might mean nothing at all, it could also mean the administration intends to “rebrand” once the state’s moving parts are mapped out.
Missouri and Hew Hampshire hold the most mystery. In both states, voters chose new governors with different party ideologies, so the safety of appointed positions remains to be seen.