JUNEAU (AP) -- David Ramseur will take over as top aide to Gov. Tony Knowles after chief of staff Jim Ayers leaves on Jan. 4, the governor's office said Tuesday.
Ramseur, 47, has been deputy chief of staff since Knowles first took office in 1994. Ramseur was press secretary to former Democrat Gov. Steve Cowper from 1986-1990 and has been a reporter with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and legislative aide.
''David has the right combination of management skills, substantial experience, a record of accomplishment and an understanding of public service for this vital position,'' Knowles said.
As chief of staff, Ramseur will assist in managing the executive branch state agencies, oversee the governor's office and relations with other branches of government.
Ayers, who has been chief of staff for seven years, announced in December he was leaving to take a new position with the environmental group Oceana.
Ramseur takes over as the Democrat governor enters the final year of his second term in office. Knowles cannot seek a third consecutive term in office.
As chief of staff, Ayers earned a reputation as a tough negotiator before the GOP-controlled Legislature and oversaw operations in the governor's office.
Ramseur oversaw public communications, speech writing and assisted in developing legislative and public policy strategies and relations with foreign governments.
Ramseur said his style of leadership will be different and so too will his role in the administration.
''Ayers was the consummate poker player. He was a great negotiator and dealmaker with the Legislature. If I have an area of expertise, it's communicating with the public and I think that's the governor's goal in his final year,'' Ramseur said.
Knowles is seeking a constitutional amendment that would end a decade-long stalemate allowing Alaska to regain control of subsistence on federal lands and waters.
He is also pushing for $179.9 million in additional funding in his fiscal 2003 budget with increases in the areas of education, social services and anti-terrorism measures.
At the same time, Knowles will face a projected $1.1 billion budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year that threatens to drain the state's reserve account by 2004.
Ramseur holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a bachelor's in political science from the University of North Carolina-Asheville.
He begins as chief of staff Jan. 5, and will earn about $100,000 annually in his new job.
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