Duluth's Anderson to lead Nolan's Minnesota offices
Jan 01, 2013 (Duluth News Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Former Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson has been tapped by his one-time opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep.-elect Rick Nolan, to oversee constituent-services offices in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District.
On Thursday, when Nolan is seated, he will open his first two district offices, including a "flagship" operation in Duluth and another office in Brainerd, said Mike Misterek, the future congressman's chief of staff. He said plans call for additional offices on the Iron Range and in the southern part of the district, but he said it would be premature to announce any additional immediate plans.
"We're holding off until we know what kind of budget we'll have to work with so we're making responsible decisions as we move forward," he said.
Misterek said many uncertainties remain as Congress continued discussions Monday about how to avoid falling off the "fiscal cliff" -- a package of automatic spending cuts and tax increases designed to reduce the national deficit in the coming year, barring an alternate solution.
When elected two years ago, Rep. Chip Cravaack initially announced plans to maintain just one office in his district, with North Branch as its selected location. Upon further consideration, however, he decided to open additional offices in Duluth and Brainerd.
At least initially, Misterek said Nolan will maintain Cravaack's existing offices in Brainerd and in Duluth's Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building, 515 W. First St. But he said staff will consider locations that could prove more economical.
Former Rep. Jim Oberstar, whom Cravaack defeated after 18 terms in office, had field offices in Duluth, Brainerd, North Branch and Chisholm.
Given the size of the congressional district, Misterek said he considers it important to staff multiple offices to ensure that constituents have ready access to assistance.
Anderson will be based in Duluth but will float throughout the district as needed. Additional field staff members are expected to be named in coming weeks.
"Jeff was a highly capable opponent in the primary, and he became a big supporter of Rick after that," Misterek said. "He has demonstrated every ability to get a good understanding of what's going on in the district and what constituents need."
Anderson was ill Monday and unavailable for comment.
Nolan also announced several other staff appointments late Sunday, including the following:
--Onamia, Minn., native Jim Swiderski will be Nolan's Washington, D.C., legislative director, responsible for day-to-day supervision of legislative initiatives and work with various congressional committees and senior legislative staff in other offices. During Nolan's previous congressional service (1975-81), Swiderski served as staff director for the House Subcommittee on Family Farms & Rural Development, of which Nolan was chairman. He has worked extensively in the U.S. and abroad for international volunteer service organizations.
--Jodie Torkelson of Thief River Falls, Minn., will be Nolan's deputy chief of staff in Washington, D.C. A former Thief River Falls city administrator, Torkelson was a top aide to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta when he served as President Clinton's White House chief of staff. She also worked for Panetta during his time on Capitol Hill as a U.S. congressman from California.
--Ione Yates of Clarissa, Minn., will be Nolan's chief scheduler. Yates, who served Nolan in the same position in Washington, D.C. from 1975-81, later spent more than 20 years in consumer and customer relations for Canon USA. She has done extensive volunteer work in Africa, focusing on AIDS prevention, assistance to abused women and childhood education.
--Steve Johnson of Red Wing, Minn., will be Nolan's communications director. A former director of communications for former U.S. Rep. Gerry Sikorski, D-Red Wing, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Johnson served as Nolan's press secretary during his previous time on Capitol Hill. He will leave his position as senior counselor at Ainsley Shea Communications in St. Paul for the new post.
"These senior staffers possess decades of combined experience in public service, business and volunteer work. They know Minnesota, they know Capitol Hill, and they will hit the ground running to provide exemplary service to the people of the 8th District from Day One," said Nolan of the appointments in a written statement. "I'm so proud to have them on our team."
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