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Brad Williams: What I Learned During My Time on Gov. Whitmer’s Transition Team

Following the election of Gretchen Whitmer as the 49th governor of Michigan, Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber, was appointed to Whitmer’s transition policy team with the mandate to develop a plan to “fix the damn roads.” Read Williams’ insights about the appointment and working with the governor-elect and her team.

When I received the call to join Governor Whitmer’s transition team, my initial reaction was somewhere between “I am honored,” and “I am terrified.” The Governor asked me to join her transition policy team with the mandate to develop a plan to “fix the damn roads.” Balancing the need to provide sound advice to the new Governor with my obligation to advocate for the needs of the business community would no doubt be a challenge. Driving to Lansing the day after the election, listening to WJR callers almost exclusively talking about fixing the roads, my anxiety level reached a peak. However, having spent the bulk of my 11 years with the Chamber working to improve transportation, I knew my task would fit neatly with my work on behalf of the Chamber.

Transitions by their very nature are intense, stressful, thrilling and humbling all at the same time. Transition Director Mark Bernstein referred to it as a $56 billion startup in 55 days. I am limited in my ability to share most of the details of my time away from the Chamber, but I can say with confidence that Gov. Whitmer is remarkably prepared to take the reins of state government.

When I came home from the office, my wife would ask the traditional “tell me about your day” questions and I would reflexively fall back on routine answers that indicated nothing special happened. Later, I would remember an interesting tidbit from the day that would start me talking, which would lead to even more tales and I would realize that what seemed like an ordinary day had in fact been filled with extraordinary experiences and memories that set our state on a pathway to even greater success.

What a privilege.

When I departed the transition office in the basement of a non-descript state office building the Friday before Christmas, I was reminded of the seemingly insurmountable task that laid before us only six weeks earlier and was filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the Chamber that allowed me to participate in this historic process. Gratitude for my transition colleagues, some of whom were joining the administration full time and some who, like me, were returning to their “day job,” but had poured their energy into the effort. But also, gratitude for the state that we live in and the opportunity we have to allow our state to continue to flourish.

Now, I have returned to my post at the Chamber. I am a better advocate for our members having been given this opportunity. I am confident that we have an opportunity to build on the last eight years of success and I look forward continuing to represent your interests in Lansing.