- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Dusty Johnson, the governor’s chief of staff and state employee of 12 years, announced Wednesday that he will step down from his position after the midterm elections next month to take a job in the private sector.

Johnson, who became chief of staff when Gov. Dennis Daugaard took office in 2011, said he’s taking a position with Vantage Point Solutions primarily to be closer to his family in Mitchell.

“Well, 12 years my family and I have been kind of living in two towns. My wife’s business is in Mitchell and my work’s in Pierre. That’s always been a frustration and an irritant, but it’s been doable,” he said.

Johnson will serve as director of consulting for Mitchell-based Vantage Point, which works primarily with rural telephone companies in 45 states.

Johnson began working for then-Gov. Mike Rounds in 2003 as a policy adviser before being elected to the Public Utilities Commission in 2004, where he served for six years before taking on his current position.

Johnson’s tenure as chief of staff is somewhat unusual. He said only five other current gubernatorial chiefs of staff have been serving longer and noted the average time in the job is about 18 months.

Johnson attributed his longevity to a natural disposition for the fast-pace work.

“Well, I’m a little bit of a mutant,” he said. “You need to be wired a certain way to really enjoy this work. It does demand a lot. It’s quite stressful. But in some respects, I feel I was born to do a job like this.”

While some speculated when the news came out that Johnson may be laying the groundwork for a run at public office, the resigning chief of staff said that’s not on his radar for now.

“I love public service, and if there’s an opportunity to serve in the future, I’d certainly entertain those notions. That being said, I’m not making this move to position for anything. I’m not planning any political run in the near or foreseeable future,” he said.

Daugaard’s office said the governor will not make any staffing announcements about replacing Johnson until after the November elections.

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