Snyder fills two key adviser roles

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder is hiring a term-limited state representative from Wayne County and a Kent County judge to fill two key adviser roles in his administration’s second term, the governor’s office said Tuesday.

Outgoing state Rep. John Walsh will become Snyder’s director of strategy on Monday and Kent County Circuit Judge James Robert Redford will join the governor’s office as chief legal counsel on Jan. 14.

Walsh is filling a spot vacant by the retirement of Bill Rustem in July. Rustem had been an adviser to the governor on legislation and policy. “I think it’s a really good fit for me and it’s a good fit for the governor’s office,” Walsh said Tuesday.

The governor’s strategy director focuses on developing new policies or tackles particular projects. Walsh shepherded the $195 million in state aid for Detroit pensions through the Legislature last spring.

Redford replaces outgoing legal counsel Mike Gadola, who is leaving the governor’s office after Snyder appointed him earlier this month to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Walsh, R-Livonia, is leaving office Wednesday after representing a western Wayne County district for three two-year terms. For the last four years, he has served as speaker pro tempore of the House. Walsh is an attorney and was an executive at Schoolcraft College and a Livonia City Council member.

Redford ran unsuccessfully for the Michigan Supreme Court this year as a Republican. He has been an elected circuit court judge in Kent County since 2003, and was previously a federal prosecutor and military trial judge while in the U.S. Navy.