(Updated 11:04 a.m.) The man who is known for his cheery disposition and for successfully negotiating the $1.6 billion concession package with the state employee unions will become Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s next chief of staff.
Malloy named Mark Ojakian Thursday morning as his next chief of staff at a brief Capitol press conference.
Ojakian, 58, succeeds Tim Bannon, who took the position with the intention of staying for a year.
Ojakian worked under Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman for 16 years in the state Comptroller’s office and more recently as a deputy undersecretary at the Office of Policy and Management.
Malloy said he considered a number of other candidates for the position but said Ojakian was his first choice.
“I made this decision awhile ago. He was my first choice and he has the absolute right skill set to do this job and that’s what that decision was based on,” he said.
That skill set includes Ojakian’s reputation for working well with others, something the governor said helped him successfully negotiated the concessions package with the state labor unions.
“He’s got a lot more patience than I do, probably is the best way to put it,” Malloy said. “He’s a skilled negotiator. He also had important relationships within the labor community that he could draw on.”
Wyman said Ojakian has the unique ability to look at an issue and bring all the parts together.
Unlike Bannon, Malloy said his new chief of staff has no plans to leave the administration after one year. Ojakian said he was looking forward to continue working with the administration to meet future challenges.
Bannon’s departure, though anticipated, represents the second time this year a senior member of Malloy’s staff has left a position. Colleen Flanagan, his communication director, left in November to do public relations for the newly formed Board of Regents.
Asked if he was working his staff too hard, Malloy said, “I hope so. It’s the plan. I don’t ask anyone to work any harder than I do.”
Ojakian will take over as chief of staff on Jan. 5 and will receive a salary of $160,000.
Ojakian attended St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he received a bachelor’s degree in history in 1975. He also studied at the American University in Washington, D.C. where he received a master’s degree in international relations in 1977.