The new governor has a new model for the office.
Doug Burgum's first news release said that he "has announced a new structure for the Office of Governor of North Dakota ... in an effort to make government more efficient and effective."
The announcement incorporates themes of his campaign.
What's he done is to create two positions where one used to serve. He'll have a director of administration and a director of operations. These roles had been combined in the position of chief of staff in the past.
Burgum brought longtime associates into both positions.
Jodi Uecker will be chief operating officer. She worked-quoting the news release here-"in operations and senior leadership positions at Great Plains Software in Fargo from 1984 to 2001." Burgum founded Great Plains, selling it to Microsoft in 2001. Uecker continued there as corporate vice president for Microsoft's Business Solutions division.
As Burgum's "chief operating officer," Uecker will work with agency heads "on strategic initiatives designed to improve processes, spur innovation and reinvent the delivery of services to realign government for the 21st century."
More echoes of the campaign there.
The chief administrative office, JoDee Hanson, has a less grandiose job description. The news release says that she will "oversee communications, office operations, the policy team, constituent services and boards and commissions."
Basically, it appears, Hanson will run the office while Uecker stirs things up.
Hanson, too, worked with businessman Burgum. The release says she "has spent the last 28 years building teams and organization with Burgum in the private sector." Most recently, she was on his transition team.
Like Burgum, neither Uecker nor Hanson has experience in government. At least the news release doesn't list any.
Nor any experience with the legislative process. Nor any familiarity with the prerogatives that legislators claim.
No worries, though. Ron Rauschenberger will be there.
Rauschenberger served as chief of staff to both Gov. John Hoeven and Jack Dalrymple. He knows his way around. In fact, he has an uncanny way of showing up whenever anything of import is happening, whether in the Capitol hallways or in Bismarck's night spots.
His contribution to state government goes beyond mere presence. His son is state tax commissioner.
The news release says Rauschenberger "will serve as senior advisor to Gov. Burgum during a transition period." How long that will be is unspecified. The job description is ambiguous, too. The news release says that Rauschenberger "will provide a bridge for the Burgum administration."
The news release lists eight other new staff members.
And it gives their hometowns, another echo of the Burgum campaign, which emphasized all of the North Dakota towns that produced employees for his business.
Uecker is from Hettinger, Hanson from Harwood.
Others are from Bismarck, West Fargo, Mayville, Strasburg, Davenport and Edinburg. (I've listed these in rank order of population, biggest to smallest.)
Only two are from elsewhere. The news release says that Cassandra Torstenson, who will be a policy adviser, is "a native of Johnsburg, Ill." It adds that she has a master's degree in public administration from UND.
Leslie Bakken Oliver, who will be general counsel, is described as a Bismarck attorney. No home town given. Her law degree is from UND, and her career has been spent in North Dakota. She was born in Phoenix. Before her appointment, she was a "shareholder" in the Vogel Law Firm, the news release says.
The Edinburg native on the list is Mike Nowatzki. He'll be communications director. His name will be familiar to newspaper readers. He spent 18 years as a reporter for Forum Communications, most of that time in Fargo but the last three years as the legislative correspondent in Bismarck.
Some of the other appointees have government experience.
Torstenson directed the environmental section at the North Dakota Department of Transportation beginning in 2013. Rebecca Ternes, the Bismarcker, served as deputy insurance commissioner for 11 years. Her title in the governor's office is "director of agency operations." Since 2007, Jill Schwab, the Strasburg native, has been executive assistant to the state commerce commissioner. She'll be Burgum's scheduler.
Two of the appointees come from Burgum's campaign staff. Robert Lauf was "political director." He'll work as a policy advisor. He's the Mayville native on the list. Earlier he worked with a health care nonprofit in Washington.
Levi Bachmeier will also be a policy advisor. From West Fargo, he served as director of operations in the Burgum campaign. Earlier, he taught and coached at Pine Ridge, S.D.
Justin Schulz will be Burgum's executive assistant. A Naval Academy graduate, he served seven years in the Marine Corps, leaving as Capt. Schulz. He grew up in Davenport.
Burgum kept only four of Dalrymple's staff: Jason Nisbet, research analyst; Shelley Haugen, constituent services; Lyndsay Will, assistant to the lieutenant governor.
And Rauschenberger, of course.
The news release didn't say where these four are from. I can fill that gap concerning Rauschenberger. He's from Kenmare. His wife, mother of the tax commissioner, is from Stanley. We went to high school together.