Guinn’s chief of staff will serve Arnold |

Guinn’s chief of staff will serve Arnold

Mike Hillerby will replace Marybel Batjer as Gov. Kenny Guinn’s chief of staff.

Batjer will return to California as cabinet secretary to Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger – a post she described as coordinating and developing policy for the governor and his cabinet. She expects to be there in a week.

Hillerby has been deputy chief of staff for Guinn and his primary lobbyist in the Legislature since he left the position of director of the Department of Cultural Affairs two years ago. Since he and Batjer receive the same pay – about $111,000 a year – he will receive no increase to assume his new duties.

Batjer, 47, said she doesn’t know exactly what her new salary will be, except that she has been told it will be higher.

Hillerby, 39, said he doesn’t anticipate major changes in the operation of the governor’s office. He said the focus right now is monitoring the budget and revenues and preparing for the 2005 Legislature.

He said he expects Guinn will hire a new deputy chief of staff “pretty quickly.” But he said the role of the deputy will probably change somewhat since he intends to keep some legislative duties during the next session.

Before becoming director of cultural affairs, Hillerby held a similar post for the city of Reno. He also spent eight years as a lobbyist in the Nevada Legislature with clients that included several different professional groups and health-care organizations.

“Mike has done an outstanding job articulating our agenda with the Legislature during tough economic times,” Guinn said.

He said Hillerby’s transition to chief of staff should be seamless.

Batjer is a fourth-generation Nevadan. Her father, Cameron, was a Nevada Supreme Court justice.

She has a long career in government since graduating from college. She spent a dozen years working for the Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. administrations, including as a special assistant to the president for National Security Affairs. She went to California after President Bill Clinton took office.

She spent six years in California Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration as deputy director of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and undersecretary of Business, Transportation and Housing.

She left California government as Gray Davis came into power, becoming an “executive in training” at the Mirage casino in Las Vegas.

Guinn hired her as chief of staff in December 2000.

He said Schwarzenegger told him he wanted to hire her away after meetings in Sacramento a week ago. She said she didn’t seek the job, but was recommended by some of the Wilson people assisting Schwarzenegger in forming a government.

“I absolutely did not seek the job,” she said.

Guinn said Schwarzenegger was impressed with the work she did in Nevada on issues including privatization of worker’s compensation, medical malpractice tort reform and the fundamental review of state government.

“It has been an honor to serve this governor, who is so totally devoted to creating a better life for all Nevadans rather than a political path for himself,” she said.

Hillerby becomes Guinn’s fourth chief of staff in five years.

In addition to Batjer, he was preceded by Peter Ernaut, now a lobbyist; and Scott Scherer, now a member of the Gaming Control Board.