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Hickenlooper makes more appointments

DENVER - John Hickenlooper doesn't officially become mayor until Monday afternoon, but he has already announced several top appointments. He said he was proud to be serving with an all-star team.

Lawyer Alvin J. LaCabe Jr. will be the city's new Manager of Public Safety. He was previously serving as Colorado's Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Larry Trujillo will be the city's new Fire Chief. He has been an assistant fire chief for the past 16 months and a Denver firefighter for 21 years.

Hickenlooper said that other top city managers from the Webb administration will stay in their positions until the transition team finalizes appointments. He said bringing in new people doesn't imply that there were problems.

I don't think that it should in any way be construed as a criticism of previous chiefs or previous managers or directors, but what we are looking for is people with fresh ideas who are open to innovation who bring a different perspective and different set of experiences to their jobs, said Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper said that Gerry Whitman will continue to serve as Police Chief, while a transition committee reviews the department. He said Whitman is actively being considered to remain on as chief.

There have been loud cries for reform at the police department since an officer fatally shot a mentally disabled 15-year-old earlier this month.

Hickenlooper is keeping two of the city's top financial officers. Cheryl Cohen-Vader will remain as the city's Manager of Revenue, a position she has held since 1996. She will also serve as deputy mayor. And Margaret Browne will continue on as the city's Finance Director.

The city is facing a projected $50 million budget shortfall. But the 51-year-old entrepreneur turned politician said he thinks it is possible to improve Denver's economy despite the nationwide slowdown.

"Every city is held hostage by the national economy ... we can work so that as the economy does come back we are right on top of that first wave and not left behind," said Hickenlooper.

The mayor-elect made the announcements about the positions Sunday at a pre-inaugural picnic at James A. Bible Park. He said that public safety and fiscal health are two of the top priorities of city residents. On Friday, Hickenlooper named two people to co-manage Denver International Airport while the top position was opened up to a nationwide search.

After Hickenlooper is sworn in on Monday, he will go from managing 1,000 employees to taking over a city bureaucracy with nearly 10,000 employees.

9NEWS will air Hickenlooper's swearing-in speech Monday which is expected to begin at around 11:45 a.m. His remarks will also be streamed on 9NEWS.com.