Capitol Alert

Two senior Republican Assembly staffers let go

Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen R-Modesto speaks as the California Legislature votes on the budget bill the State Capitol Sunday June 15, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen R-Modesto speaks as the California Legislature votes on the budget bill the State Capitol Sunday June 15, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Newly elevated Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, is shaking up the Republican caucus staff by parting ways with two senior staffers.

Longtime policy staffer Richard Mersereau and Deborah Gonzalez, who served most recently as policy and fiscal director and then chief of staff to outgoing Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, will both be pushed out.

“Leadership have the right to select staff, especially senior staff, to help implement their vision,” Olsen spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said. “Assembly leader Olsen wants to take the caucus in a different direction.”

Jim Richardson, most recently chief of staff to state Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, will take over the chief of staff position, while Fulkerson said no successor has been chosen to fill Mersereau’s now-vacant post. Richardson has worked for then-Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte, former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and led the Schwarzenegger transition team following the 2003 gubernatorial recall election.

Olsen will lead a caucus that recovered some standing in last week’s election, erasing a Democratic two-thirds majority that had effectively relegated Republicans to the sidelines. She has spoken of the need to broaden the party’s appeal by emphasizing bedrock issues like jobs and education.

In a post on Facebook, Mersereau wrote, “I urge everyone to move forward in a positive, constructive manner.”

“I sincerely believe it is vital that this change be handled with the utmost respect for the new Assembly Republican Leader, and for a Caucus which grew its ranks by the largest margin in 20 years, and which I have been honored to serve in so many capacities since December of 1984,” Mersereau wrote.

Editor’s note: This post was updated Nov. 12, 2014 at 9:32 am. to remove an emailed statement that had been erroneously attributed to Olsen.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

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