Governor's new chief of staff is a familiar name in Carson City

The governor's new chief of staff comes with a killer resume that stretches from running huge agencies in California to working as special assistant to the National Security Council.

But more important to a lot of folks in Carson City, Marybel Batjer comes with a name long familiar to them. After all, she grew up here.

Batjer, 45, officially took over as Scott Scherer's replacement Dec. 1. He is moving to the Gaming Control Board.

Daughter of former Carson District Attorney and later Supreme Court Justice Cameron Batjer, she grew up playing with the children of some of the capital's best known families including former state Sen. Archie Pozzi Jr., former district judge Frank Gregory and former mayor Jim Robertson.

"It's really something to come back after all these years," she said. "I've heard from some of my childhood friends. I even got some flowers."

A number of those old friends say they're glad to have her back including Kim Morgan, now second in command for the Legislative Counsel Bureau's legal division.

Morgan says they were friends and debate partners at Carson High School 27 years ago but she's not sharing any stories. After all, that's a two way street.

Cousin Dave Gamble, now a Douglas County district judge, wasn't above giving up a tidbit or two.

"Her nickname was ding - short for ding-a-ling," he said.

But Gamble says even then she was an achiever.

"She had fun but she was also very serious," he said. "And organized. Horribly so. Embarrassingly so."

Batjer volunteered that she's been accused of being too intense.

"I can be very intense. Sometimes I have to be reminded of a sense of humor - or so my father tells me."

She admits to being pretty partisan even when she was little.

Former mayor Robertson says it was Batjer who showed up at their front door asking to play with their daughter.

"Then she asked who we were going to vote for," he laughs. "It wasn't an offensive question. It's just that, coming from some one 7 years old, it was kind of funny."

"I supposedly did a similar thing to my kindergarten teacher," she says. "I have to admit I had the political bug from day one."

After attending the 1964 Republican convention in San Francisco, she says, "I think I wore a Goldwater button to school every day for a year."

Gamble and Morgan both say Guinn made an excellent choice when he picked Batjer as chief of staff. Robertson echoed their sentiments, describing her as "very bright and a real asset to the governor."

She said she plans to prove that assessment right.

But returning to Carson City wasn't something she planned after 20 years away. She worked for the Reagan and Bush administrations in Washington D.C. for a dozen years serving as a special assistant to the president for National Security Affairs and a special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy among other posts.

After Bill Clinton took office in 1992, Batjer moved to California to become chief deputy director in the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and then undersecretary of California's Business, Transportation and Housing agency until Dec. 1998. In that post, she directed operation of 13 departments with an $11 billion budget and 39,000 employees.

"I very much wanted to stay in California," she said.

Until Mirage Resorts owner Steve Wynn called "out of the blue" and offered her a position. She became an "executive in training" at Mirage in Las Vegas until Wynn sold his casino corporation and the post disappeared.

But it wasn't long before Guinn called asking if she wanted to come back to Carson City.

Temporarily staying with her family in Reno, she says she's enjoying Carson City again, although the town has changed dramatically.

And she said she's enjoying the job.

"I consider it as joining a very good team," she said. "I've got a lot to learn but it's stuff I love."

She said she hopes to help his administration be successful. As for how she operates, she described her style as "open, friendly, thoughtful and fair."

But there is that "intense" streak.

"I do love to work," she said adding it's one reason she's single.

"It's lonely but in most of the jobs I've had, it's not a bad way to be. It does allow you to work longer hours, more days of the week," she said.


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