Gov.-elect David Ige has chosen Mike McCartney, executive director of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, to be his chief of staff.

Ige, who won by a landslide on Tuesday’s election, held his first press conference Friday to announce the appointment.

He said he has known McCartney for 20 years and that he embodies the values of collaboration and transparency.

Sen. David Ige speaks during of gubernatorial forum at UH West Oahu presented by the West Oahu Economic Development Association on August 26, 2014

Gov.-elect David Ige

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

McCartney spent 10 years in the state Senate and directed the state Department of Human Resource Development under former Gov. Ben Cayetano. He also formerly led the Hawaii State Teachers Association, PBS Hawaii and the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

Ige said he would begin accepting applications for cabinet positions later in the day. Applicants can click here to apply.

“We are committed to finding the best team regardless of whether they’ve served previously,” Ige said. The goal is to fill the positions before Ige assumes office Dec. 1, but he said he’s not tying himself to a firm deadline.

Mike McCartney

Mike McCartney, Ige’s new chief of staff

STUDIO 3

After the announcement, reporters bombarded the governor-elect with questions on various policy issues. Ige said Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui is going to continue working from his Maui office but that they’re working on ways to cut costs.

Ige is starting the process of reviewing the state budget but hasn’t yet met with Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Ige’s campaign manager, Keith Hiraoka, is leading his transition team.

Ige had little to say about two controversial issues relating to genetically modified organisms and development. He said he is “not quite certain” of the details of Maui County’s new GMO farming moratorium, and said he “has no information” on a high-rise project that may be approved in Kakaako this month.

Opponents of the moratorium have said it could lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs, and critics of the high-rise project fear the Abercrombie administration is rushing its approval to avoid Ige’s new cabinet members from blocking it.

When asked another question about his top priorities once he takes office, Ige referred reporters to his 11-point action plan that he rolled out during his campaign. He also discouraged the suggestion that he would reinstate junior kindergarten.

The governor-elect is jetting off to Colorado next week to attend a National Governors Association conference for new governors. He laughed when a reporter suggested he check out how the state’s marijuana legalization is working out. During the campaign, Ige said he had never smoked pot.

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