ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota's Gov.-elect Tim Walz is kick-starting his transition to the state's top office.
Walz defeated Republican Jeff Johnson in Tuesday's open race for governor. He visited the State Capitol Thursday with Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan and his wife, Gwen Walz, to open a transition office on the third floor of the historic center of government.
"First of all we want to thank the people of Minnesota," Walz told reporters. "It’s not lost on us the honor that was given to us to have received more votes for governor of Minnesota than anyone in the history of the state, and that comes with a responsibility."
The six-term Congressman from Mankato also thanked opponent Jeff Johnson taking the high road during the campaign, focusing on issues rather than personal attacks.
Flanagan and Walz also announced the official Walz-Flanagan transition website for people to track their process, and to submit ideas for their administration.
There's plenty of work to do. The new governor will have to select an entire cabinet of commissioners and hire hundreds of employees. Walz and Flanagan say they're opening the process to the entire state by collecting resumes online.
First Lady Gwen Walz said the family hasn't decided yet when to move into the Governor's Residence, a mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Their children, Hope and Gus, are still in school and Mrs. Walz is also a teacher. So the move may be put off until after the school year ends.
Flanagan will chair the One Minnesota Transition Advisory Board. The members will represent a diverse cross section of the state, according to Walz, including faith leaders, CEOs, teachers and entrepreneurs.
Walz has already hired a top staffer to lead the transition as well as a chief of staff. He is attorney Chris Schmitter, who has worked with Walz in his congressional office as well as on campaigns.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is leaving office after two terms. Walz and Flanagan is set to be sworn in Jan. 7.