James Baisden. (Photo courtesy James Baisden)

James Baisden. (Photo courtesy James Baisden)

Baisden to retire, step down as chief of staff

Baisden has served as borough Mayor Charlie Pierce’s chief of staff since 2018.

James Baisden will step down as Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce’s chief of staff effective June 1 to spend more time with his family. Baisden confirmed his retirement on Tuesday.

Baisden has served as Pierce’s chief of staff since 2018. Prior to working for the borough, Baisden served as Nikiski Fire Service Area chief and as the chief of emergency services. Baisden has also served in the military.

“I’ve got almost 32 years in the system and it’s time for me to figure out what I want to do next,” Baisden said. “I’ve got three kids at home, and I’ve got one who’s graduating and I want to spend the summer with them this year before we start losing them out of our household.”

Most recently, Baisden ran to replace Gary Knopp, who died in a midair plane collision last summer, as the representative for Alaska State House District 30, which includes Kenai and Soldotna. Baisden lost to Ron Gillham. Baisden and his wife Rhonda have also been active in mobilizing people on the peninsula against COVID-19 mitigation protocols implemented by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, though Baisden said that did not impact his decision to retire.

“My goal here is to be here for another two months and finish off everything we’ve got going on this year and I just haven’t had enough time to really think about what’s next,” Baisden said. “What’s next for me right now, in my mind, is going to be spending as much time with my family as I can.”

In his resignation letter sent to Pierce, Baisden said that he has enjoyed his time working for the borough and that he hopes to help with the transition moving forward.

“I have enjoyed my 13 years of employment with the Borough, with the highlight of my career working the last few years as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff,” Baisden wrote. “My goal is to provide you with 3 months’ notice and to help you with the current budget process and future leadership transition.”

Mayor Charlie Pierce said Tuesday that while he is excited for Baisden to be able to spend more time with his family, the announcement took him by surprise.

In selecting a new chief of staff, Pierce said that he is going to be “very careful” during the process and will keep borough employees and peninsula residents in mind when determining who can best meet their needs.

“I want to be very, very methodical and considerate about it,” Pierce said. “I may run here for a while solo, but I’m going to be very careful on the selection process as to who I bring on as the chief staff.”

Pierce said it’s too early to tell whether or not he will recruit internally or externally for Baisden’s replacement, but that he wants whoever comes in to be results-oriented and to have a strong work ethic.

“I’m going to take the time I need to make sure that the individual that comes in fits well,” Pierce said.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Dale Chorman stands with his wife, Dianne. (Photo provided by Tom Kizzia)
Long-time Homer resident, photographer dead after Sunday moose encounter

Troopers on Monday identified the victim as 70-year-old Dale Chorman

A sign warning of a June 28, 2021, bear attack is placed at the head of the Kenai River Trail on Skilak Loop Road in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Federal wildlife officers seek information about early-May black bear poaching

Officials think the poaching happened near the east entrance of Skilak Loop roughly 2 miles from Jims’ Landing

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Ninilchik woman dead after Tuesday collision

The woman was attempting to cross the Sterling Highway from Oil Well Road when she was struck by a pickup truck

Graduates listen to Connections Homeschool Principal Doug Hayman speak during the school’s commencement ceremony on Thursday in Soldotna. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Graduates listen to Connections Homeschool Principal Doug Hayman speak during the school’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Expect a lot from yourself and from others’

Connections Homeschool students accept diplomas at commencement ceremony

Screenshot
Graduates of Seward High School leave the gym at the end of their graduation ceremony on Wednesday.
‘Give people something to talk about’

Seward High School graduates 30

Kenai Police Chief David Ross speaks to Kenai City Council members about an ordinance that would repeal sections of city code that prohibit public sleeping and loitering and the city’s curfew on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai OKs repeal of loitering laws, curfew for minors

The policies, first enacted in 1978, are difficult to enforce and potentially violate citizens’ rights, according to the Kenai Police Department

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates throw their caps into the air at the conclusion of a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski graduates ‘will always be a part of each other’s stories’

The graduates celebrated their time together and took a moment to anticipate the bright futures that lie ahead

A seal pup rescued from near Kenai beach is treated by the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Wildlife Response Program on May 9, 2024. (Photo courtesy Kaiti Grant/Alaska SeaLife Center)
SeaLife Center admits abandoned harbor seal pups

Both seals were found abandoned and malnourished, and both were born prematurely

Most Read