Walker to hire political consultant Heckendorn as special assistant

Gov. Bill Walker is hiring Anchorage political consultant John-Henry Heckendorn as a special assistant.

Heckendorn, 26, opened his political consulting firm, Ship Creek Group, two years ago with photographer Joshua Corbett.

They later brought on a third partner, Paula DeLaiarro, and managed six successful legislative campaigns in last year's election, working with both Republicans and Democrats. The firm also does communications consulting with commercial clients.

Heckendorn will start work at the end of the month as special assistant to Walker and to Scott Kendall, who was named chief of staff in December.

Heckendorn, in a phone interview Tuesday from Juneau, said he will work with the Legislature and the state's executive-branch agencies. His salary hasn't been determined, he added.

While Walker will be up for re-election in less than two years, Heckendorn downplayed his experience running political campaigns, noting he has also worked on policy efforts like health care reform and promoting young people's participation in Alaska fisheries.

"I think the governor's been, consistently, the person in the room who's been interested in doing the right thing and not the political thing," Heckendorn said.

Nathaniel Herz

Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He’s been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at ADN and Alaska Public Media. He’s reported around the state and loves cross-country skiing.