Peltola’s D.C. hires include Young’s former chief of staff

a man in a suit
Alex Ortiz, chief of staff for the late Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), has been hired for the same position by Democratic congresswoman-elect Mary Peltola. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Congresswoman-elect Mary Peltola has landed an experienced aide to lead her U.S. House office. Alex Ortiz, who was Congressman Don Young’s last chief of staff, will also work in that role for Peltola.

Congressional staff don’t usually cross the partisan aisle when they move from one office to another. But Young was a Republican. Peltola is a Democrat.

Peltola says she’s intent on finishing some of the initiatives that Young hoped to accomplish this year.

“I think continuity is important,” Peltola said. “And someone who’s been in the office who can help explain some of the background and intent of legislation, negotiations that have happened.”

Ortiz is originally from Ketchikan. He worked for Young for a decade.

Peltola has also announced four other staff hires.

Claire Richardson will direct constituent services. She’s a former public radio reporter from Juneau. She worked for governors Tony Knowles and Bill Walker, and was chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott.

Larry Persily of Anchorage will be a senior policy advisor. He was a deputy commissioner at the Alaska Department of Revenue and was federal coordinator for Alaska’s proposed natural gas pipeline.

Hector Jimenez will be Peltola’s scheduler, the person who acts as a gatekeeper. He’s from Anchorage and has been working on Peltola’s campaign.

Josh Wilson is her new interim communications director. He’s from Iowa and previously worked for Republican members of Congress.

Peltola will be sworn in Tuesday, during a ceremony set to be livestreamed at 2:30 p.m. Alaska time.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.