After more than 17 years with Gila County, Steve Besich will be taking a new position as of Jan. 13. Governor Janet Napolitano has appointed Besich to her staff as the Greater Arizona Policy Advisor.
"The governor has made a public commitment to be the governor of the entire state of Arizona," Besich said Tuesday.
Although the job description is still being worked on, Besich sees himself as a conduit of information.
"I think my role will be one of working with the various municipalities, counties and individuals that are important to greater and rural Arizona," he said, "and making sure that (the governor) is aware of what the real issues are.
"My job is to listen more than I talk and be able to convey directly on the 9th Floor what the real issues are for greater Arizona and how greater Arizona needs to participate in the overall economic or fiscal health of the state. I think the other role will be to help build partnerships between all-important sectors of the rural community private and public."
Working on behalf of rural Arizona in tough economic times and in one of the poorest counties in the State, Besich said he is very aware of the challenges he faces.
"The overall challenge with the state is financial," Besich said. "A challenge that is of this magnitude has never been seen in this state before - that is the No. 1 challenge."
Besich has seen firsthand how the rural entities fund themselves in order to survive in tough economic times, but that is not the only issue.
"We all know that there are tremendous water, natural resource and transportation issues both in the urban and in non-urban counties," he said.
Working on behalf of Gila County at the state level, Besich made the contacts that propelled him from Globe to the ninth floor of the capital building.
Alan Stephens, one of the governor's Co-Chief's of Staff will be Besich's direct boss. The two men have worked closely together on rural Arizona issues. Stephens, prior to his appointment, had been the Executive Director for the County Supervisors Association. Besich was Chairman of the County Managers Association.
"They called and asked if I was interested," Besich said. "We began a brief dialogue and sooner rather than later an offer was made and I accepted."
Governor Napolitano made an official announcement last Friday.
"I intend to do a very credible job for her," Besich said.