Governor Bill Walker confirmed today he is hiring of highly successful local political consultant John-Henry Heckendorn to serve as a Special Assistant to the Governor and the Chief of Staff.
Heckendorn is best known for handling progressive campaigns such as Anchorage assembly runs for Forrest Dunbar and Eric Croft and Ivy Spohnholz’ bid for the state legislature. However, his political consulting firm, Ship Creek Group, has also taken on moderate Republican clients. In 2016, they worked for Republicans State House candidates Delena Johnson and Gary Knopp.
The young Heckendorn is already one of Alaska’s most respected political minds. That Gov. Walker has now added him and another high-level campaign operative, Scott Kendall, to his office in recent weeks is a strong signal the Governor is actively planning to run for reelection in 2018.
Heckendorn is slated to begin on January 31st at a salary still to be negotiated.
Radio host Dave Stieren messaged us on Twitter asking how this hiring will fit within the Gov. Walker’s statewide hiring freeze. I inquired and Walker’s Press Secretary Katie Marquette told me, “it wasn’t technically a hiring freeze, it was hiring restrictions.” Marquette went on to say Heckendorn’s hiring is consistent with those restrictions. She also said Heckendorn’s salary will come out of the existing budget for the Governor’s Office.
Here is a brief statement on Heckendorn’s hiring from Governor Walker:
John-Henry Heckendorn of Anchorage will join the Governor’s office as Special Assistant to the Governor and Chief of Staff. The founding partner of Ship Creek Group, LLC, Heckendorn has worked in Alaska politics and communications for five years. His portfolio includes successful political and public relations projects and work on issues such as fisheries access, wildfire management, and healthcare. Heckendorn graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington with a bachelor of arts in economics and politics, and was an All-American and national championship runner-up in intercollegiate debate.
“John-Henry Heckendorn has energy and experience that will be well-suited in this administration. He is a talented young Alaskan who has accomplished a great deal, and I admire his desire to better our state for future generations,” said Governor Walker. “I have often said that it is important to include Alaskans of all political stripes and backgrounds in this administration. This also includes young Alaskans who bring a fresh perspective to the issues our state is facing.”
Heckendorn will work closely with the Governor and Chief of Staff, advising them on key issues, and serving as a liaison within the administration.