Nixon appoints citizen advisers

Friday, December 5, 2008 | 5:31 p.m. CST; updated 7:52 p.m. CST, Friday, December 5, 2008

This story has been updated to correctly identify the organization led by Rick Puig as the Young Democrats of Missouri.

JEFFERSON CITY — Three Columbia residents, a doctor, a retiree and a student, are part of a group of 100 citizens picked to help the transition team of Gov.-elect Jay Nixon.

According to a news release from Nixon's transition office, the citizens will help identify a diverse application pool to work in the Nixon administration. Nixon will be responsible for appointing people to a number of state departments. The citizen advisers will help identify potential appointees.

Of the 100 citizens chosen, 19 came from mid-Missouri.

Karen Edison, chairwoman of the MU Department of Dermatology, said she was chosen because she is co-director of a center for health policy.

"In that role, I am in contact with leaders in health care from around the state," she said.

Edison said her role is to contact people who she thinks are qualified and encourage them to fill out an application on the transition government's Web site. She called the process a continuation of grassroots efforts seen during the last election.

"The point is they don't want a bunch of people who are well connected, or people who have a lot of money and people who know a lot of people, but they want people who are qualified and might be interested in public policy," she said.

The citizen transition advisers will be encouraging business and civic leaders from their communities to apply, Nixon spokesman Oren Shur wrote in an e-mail.

"With more than 100 citizen transition advisers working across the state, we hope to develop the broadest base of applicants possible," Shur wrote.

Rick Puig, a junior at MU and president of the Young Democrats of Missouri, is the only student chosen for the team.

Puig called the 100 citizen advisers the "front line of the administration's recruitment effort."

He said he has some people in mind to nominate.

"Gov.-elect Nixon made it very clear for us to search our Rolodex for people within our region, other parts of the state and even outside the state," Puig said.

Puig said he thinks he was chosen to help because of the youth participation in the last election.

"I think that Gov.-elect Nixon looked across the state and tried to look for people who have worked a lot in their community," Puig said.

He said his age will help him identify other young people who could help Nixon.

"I think I can identify people who worked ably during the election," he said.

Columbia retiree Bruce Wilson was also chosen to be a citizen adviser. Wilson could not be reached for comment.

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