Gov. Bobby Jindal shuffled staff within his administration Monday after a long-time aide announced his departure.
Stephen Waguespack, the governor’s chief of staff, said he plans to quit Oct. 15 to focus on his three boys with wife, Colleen, and pursue opportunities in the private sector.
“I love the governor. I love the state. ... Every day’s been a privilege,” said Waguespack, who worked on Jindal’s 2007 gubernatorial campaign and served as the governor’s executive counsel before becoming chief of staff.
He declined to comment on whether future possible job opportunities include replacing LSU System General Counsel Ray Lamonica, who resigned earlier this month.
“I just felt like it was time for me to focus more on my kids,” he said, adding that he wants to pursue a different path in life.
As chief of staff, Waguespack oversaw the daily operations of the Governor’s Office. He also was a member of the governor’s inner circle of advisers.
Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater will move from his job as the governor’s budget adviser into Waguespack’s role. Taking over for Rainwater at the Division of Administration will be the governor’s deputy chief of staff, Kristy Nichols.
The governor’s communications director, Kyle Plotkin, said Rainwater will keep his annual pay of $204,000. Nichols, he said, will receive $167,000 a year, a bump from her $163,000 pay.
Waguespack, 38, said he told the governor late last week that he wanted to leave the Jindal administration.
One of Waguespack’s sons is in the autism spectrum.
“Bobby is someone I admire greatly, and he’s a dear friend. He was very understanding,” Waguespack said.
He said he might take a family vacation before starting a new job.
Called “Wags” around the State Capitol, Waguespack met the governor on Capitol Hill and moved from campaign aide to policy director and deputy chief of staff to executive counsel. He officially became chief of staff last year after the governor’s longtime adviser, Timmy Teepell, left the job to become a full-time political consultant.
“From the beginning of our work to build a better Louisiana, Stephen has been by my side as a trusted adviser and a friend. He helped shepherd through monumental policy reforms that will have a lasting and positive impact on our state,” the governor said in a prepared statement.
Waguespack said he is working another two weeks to help with the transition. He said Rainwater and Nichols should do well in their new roles.
Waguespack said Rainwater, 50, understands how the state budget works. “The governor has a tremendous amount of respect for his abilities,” he said.
Both Rainwater and Nichols, 39, have held different jobs within the Jindal administration.
In a prepared statement, the governor said Rainwater never shies away from a challenge, and Nichols is a critical member of his team.
Rainwater was executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, which oversaw the spending of hurricane dollars after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, before becoming the governor’s deputy chief of staff. As commissioner of administration, he helped craft the state operating budget.
Nichols worked as a policy adviser before serving as secretary of the state Department of Children and Family Services.