Outgoing Colorado House speaker to serve as Gov. Polis’ new chief of staff

By: - November 14, 2022 12:13 pm
Alec Garnett

House Speaker Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat, speaks to members of the media during a briefing on April 29, 2021. Democratic lawmakers announced a trio of bills aimed at addressing gun violence, weeks after a mass shooting in Boulder. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will have a new chief of staff in 2023 for the first time since he was elected into office.

Lisa Kaufmann has worked with Polis since his first bid for Congress in 2007 — longer than any other staff member — and will step down from her role as chief of staff after more than 15 years of supporting his political career.

Outgoing Colorado House Speaker Alec Garnett will take over as Polis’ chief of staff. 


Polis said in a statement he is grateful to have had Kaufmann as a leader and advisor throughout unprecedented challenges for Colorado, and that while she leaves big shoes to fill, he is confident Garnett is the best choice for the job. 

“Together, we delivered real results for Coloradans, and I am honored to have worked shoulder to shoulder with her on behalf of our beloved state,” Polis said in the statement. “Lisa’s strategic thinking has been essential to helping guide my administration, and I am excited that she has agreed to continue with the administration focused on showcasing my second-term priority of expanding transit and more transit-oriented housing.”

Garnett at one time was considering a run for Denver mayor next year.

Colorado elected officials including a state senator, a U.S. senator and a U.S. representative sang Kaufmann’s praises for her dedication to Colorado in her time as chief of staff. 

“Lisa has been an incredible public servant, and her problem-solving skills and ability to develop strategic solutions to our state’s most pressing challenges is simply unmatched,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette said in a news release. “The Governor, myself and our congressional delegation in Washington, and our state have all greatly benefited from her wise counsel.”

Garnett just finished his eighth term as a state representative serving House District 2 based in central Denver. A news release from Polis’ office highlighted his work centered on affordable housing, public education and gun violence prevention. 

“No one can replace Lisa Kaufmann, who has been one of Colorado’s most successful Chiefs of Staff,” Garnett said in a statement. “Her strategic vision and pivotal role serving alongside Governor Polis over the last 15 years led to the passage of landmark legislation that is right now helping Coloradans in every corner of our state.”


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Lindsey Toomer
Lindsey Toomer

Lindsey Toomer covers politics, social justice and other stories for Newsline. She formerly reported on city government at the Denver Gazette and on Colorado mountain town government, education and environment at the Summit Daily News. Toomer graduated from the Pennsylvania State University, where she also served as managing editor of The Daily Collegian, with degrees in journalism and global studies.