Two of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s top staffers are leaving the administration, the mayor’s office said Wednesday.
Chief of Staff Ona Brause and City Attorney Becky Windt Pearson have given notice. Spokesman Ira Slomski-Pritz said both departures were the choice of the employees, not the administration.
Windt Pearson has accepted a job as general counsel for GCI. She will stay on with the city until her Feb. 1 start date with the telecom company.
Slomski-Pritz said Brause only planned to serve in the role for two years, but stayed on longer to help the administration address the state budget cuts. Neither have given written notice, he said.
Windt Pearson said it is uncertain that she would retain her role after Berkowtiz’s term is up, so she decided to take the job at GCI. She said she had been talking with GCI, where she previously worked, for the past month or two.
“I was not in any way looking to leave,” she said. "This was just an extraordinary opportunity.”
Windt Pearson has been the municipal attorney for two years. She led the city’s pending $1 billion sale of its utility, Municipal Light & Power.
“Becky has distinguished herself with her skills, professionalism and her commitment to Anchorage,” Berkowitz said in a prepared statement.
Brause also will leave Feb. 1. She said she has been in talks with Berkowtiz for the past few months about when to step down and what the transition would look like.
“It’s a really difficult, taxing job, but it is the greatest job I’ve ever had," she said. "It’s time for me to take a break.”
Brause said she plans to take some time off, get a dog and travel. She became chief of staff in 2017 after serving as deputy for two years.
Deputy Municipal Attorney Dee Ennis will fill in for Windt Pearson while the city conducts a search for her replacement. Slomski-Pritz said he doesn’t know if the search will be centered on internal candidates or expanded to a local or national search.
Brause will be succeeded by Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Bockenstedt, who has been in his role since 2017.
Slomski-Pritz said new salaries for Bockenstedt and Ennis haven’t been finalized, but they will be similar to those of their predecessors. Brause makes $130,332 annually. Windt Pearson makes $138,652 annually.