This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
Alaska Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy has offered Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Mayor’s Office chief of staff, John Quick, the position of commissioner for the Department of Administration. Quick said he interviewed for the position last week and received the news on Thanksgiving.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Quick said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
The Department of Administration provides centralized administrative services to state agencies in matters of finance, personnel, labor relations, leasing of space, central mail distribution, property management, risk management, procurement, retirement and benefits programs, information and telecommunication systems, and operation and maintenance of 18 state-owned buildings in Juneau, Anchorage, Nome, Palmer and Fairbanks, according to the state’s website.
Quick will begin his new role Dec. 3 after serving the borough for a little over a year. He said the mayor will be revealing a plan for a new chief of staff very soon.
“It’s been a pleasure serving the Kenai Peninsula Borough,” Quick said. “It was a phenomenal opportunity to serve the mayor. Now, I look forward to serving the governor.”
Quick said despite the new position, he’s just a phone call away, and that his door is always open.
Dunleavy also takes office Dec. 3. Among the appointments Dunleavy’s transition team announced Monday were Jason Brune as Environmental Conservation commissioner and Adam Crum as health commissioner.
Dunleavy’s pick to lead the Department of Environmental Conservation has a resource development background. His pick for health commissioner is a workforce development company executive.
Dunleavy, a Republican former state senator, said in a statement that the status quo “came to a screeching halt” with his election. He said his appointees with help deliver state services in “innovative ways.”
Brune is a former executive director of the Resource Development Council who worked in public affairs for a former partner in the Pebble Mine project. He most recently has worked for the Alaska Native corporation Cook Inlet Region, Inc., as senior director of land and resources.
Crum’s bio, released by Dunleavy’s transition, says he has degrees in psychology and public health. Crum told The Associated Press he is not a “health care policy guy” but is experienced in putting together and leading teams and working on projects.
He said there are talented people working in the state Department of Health and Social Services.
Crum, who said he applied for the job, is executive vice president with Northern Industrial Training LLC.
In his new role, he said a focus will be on “people, not programs,” to make sure services are provided to those who need them most. Dunleavy has said he wants to review the state’s Medicaid program to see if it’s sustainable.
Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, said it’s a bit unusual to hire someone who hasn’t worked directly in the industry. But she said the department is big and complex and requires a leader with strong management skills. If Crum has those skills and surrounds himself with people who understand the complexities of health care, she said he could be a strong leader.
“I think we need to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Hultberg, a former state commissioner of Administration who remembers being called inexperienced. She said her agency got things done because of the talent on her team.
Dunleavy named Donna Arduin as his budget director.
Arduin has worked with other Republican governors across the country, including as budget director for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The three commissioner picks are subject to legislative confirmation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.