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January 08, 2013

Democratic Operatives MacLean, Emerson and Charyk Land New Gigs

Alex.MacLeanTwo months after election day, three Democratic operatives have landed new gigs in and out of Vermont politics.

Alex MacLean (pictured at right), a veteran staffer and two-time campaign manager for Gov. Peter Shumlin, was hired Monday by Jay Peak owners Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros to serve as a project manager for their proposed $600 million Northeast Kingdom Development Initiative.

The Peacham native says she'll be charged with directing community relations and recruiting foreign investors for the ambitious project, which includes expansions at Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resort; the development of a convention center, window factory and biotechnology campus in Newport; and an expansion of the Newport State Airport in Coventry.

"She's invested in the project because she's from this area and cares deeply about the region," Stenger says. "She's just a very focused, intelligent, hard-working person. And those are the kinds of people we need to make these projects work."

MacLean's hiring by the Northeast Kingdom developers has been rumored for weeks in Montpelier, but wasn't confirmed until Monday, when Shumlin mentioned it at a press conference. MacLean and Stenger both say she will not be engaged in lobbying, though she may coordinate an investor recruitment trip to Florida next month. Shumlin took part in such a trip in November 2011 and may do so again, MacLean said.

"The fact that Alex knows [Vermont lawmakers] isn't a hindrance, of course, but we're not asking her to do things [at the Statehouse]," Stenger says.

"I'll just say I'm thrilled to both live and work in the Northeast Kingdom and help revitalize the region and create jobs," MacLean adds.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Democratic Party has brought on two up-and-coming operatives who distinguished themselves during the 2012 campaign season: Ryan Emerson and Nick Charyk.


Emerson (pictured at left) managed Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan's well-run, but ultimately unsuccessful primary campaign for attorney general last summer. He then went on to manage State Treasurer Beth Pearce's successful bid to retain the seat to which she had been appointed.

Emerson will serve as as both communications director and field director, according to Vermont Democratic Party chairman Jake Perkinson. He replaces former communications director Ariel Wengroff and former field director Ryan McLaren, who are both pursuing other opportunities, Perkinson says.

Charyk, meanwhile, drew accolades during the 2012 election cycle as the director of the Vermont Democratic House Campaign. In that role, he served as House Speaker Shap Smith's (D-Morrisville) key political staffer charged with electing Dems to the House. Despite the fact that their party held 94 of 150 House seats going into the election, Smith and Charyk managed to increase their out-size majority to 96.

According to Perkinson, Charyk will serve as the VDP's political director, a new position.

In addition, the party plans to retain executive director Julia Barnes, finance director Fauna Shaw and data director John Faas during the political off-season, Perkinson says.

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