Two weeks ago, 10 gubernatorial candidates won their elections. Bill Walker (I) in Alaska had to wait a bit longer to find out about the successful outcome of his race. That means that 11 governors-elect now face the daunting challenge of seamlessly transitioning to power. Each has around two months to begin planning, though David Ige (D) in Hawaii has just a month, since his inauguration is on Dec. 1, and his first budget is due two three weeks later. The way each new governor handles this chaotic time will say a lot about how each will govern, and thus is worthy of some examination and close scrutiny.

One of the first things that many did after the celebrations ended was to name a transition team. These teams of advisers and party loyalists range from as few as seven for Tom WolfTom WolfPennsylvania court extends mail-in ballot deadline Barr: Coronavirus lockdowns 'greatest intrusion on civil liberties' since slavery The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump, Biden couldn't be more different on climate change MORE (D) in Pennsylvania to 28 for Bruce Rauner (R) in Illinois. The teams will quickly assemble lists of potential political appointees. In Hawaii, Ige has the power to appoint 35 to his new office and another eight for positions on other islands, and in large states like Texas and Illinois, the task is even more daunting.


If you are interested in one of these positions, most of the newly elected governors have set up websites to field your inquiry. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyKelly's lead widens to 10 points in Arizona Senate race: poll Polls show trust in scientific, political institutions eroding Coronavirus victim's daughter: Dad could have been spared if Trump told public what he told Woodward MORE's (R-Ariz.) old campaign website redirects you to a website where you can get news about the transition, contact the transition team and apply for a job in his office. Ducey's transition website also allows you to donate to the 2015 Arizona Government Transition Committee, but know that these are non-deductible contributions.

Other governors-elect have simply added material about the transition to their existing campaign website, and some, Walker, Ige, Rauner and Charlie Baker (R-Mass.), have yet to post anything extensive about their transition plans online, though that may soon come.

For all of the new governors, the existence of a transition website is more than just a triviality. There are few states with comprehensive rules about what should transpire during the transition. While there are numerous regulations on campaigns and disclosure of donors, few equivalents exist for the transition period when the governor has not yet been sworn into office. As a result, ethics and transparency is usually relegated to the prerogative of the transition team. Thus far, Ducey has been the most forthright on this front, posting on his transition website a statement that reads: "In the interest of transparency, the committee will voluntarily report and disclose all contributions and expenditures here. These guidelines are not required by law, but have been established for transparency and openness purposes." Thus far, the name of just a single $100 donor appears on the site.

The other governors-elect are violating no laws by not making more information available to the public about the transition process, but they do so at their own peril, as the transition period is fraught with ethical pitfalls. Already, Baker has had a transition team member, Richard Taylor, resign because of unpaid taxes.

And even if these governors-elect assemble a team whose members have paid all their taxes and violated no laws, they still should conduct the transition period with the same democratic spirit of the campaign. Voters, including those that voted for the opposing candidate, deserve opportunities to offer recommendations, give advice and help shape the new administration. In 2008, then-President-elect Obama famously had a "seat at the table" policy that required any individual or group that sought a meeting with his transition team to post the information they planned to share on a public website. The Obama transition team posted information about who they were meeting with to promote an open process.

These newly elected governors could adopt similar policies in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, but also because governing is hard work. Good ideas come from all sorts of places, but will only advance the interests of the state if they can be heard. For those governors that have not posted their transition website, each should consider at least a Web link for voters, not just to apply for a job or donate money, but to contribute their thoughts about the future of the state.

Brown is an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. He is the author of Lobbying the New President: Interests in Transition (Routledge, 2012).