James “Jim” Hutchinson is leaving the job of assistant secretary of the Office of Tourism and a national search will get under way soon for his replacement, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Friday.
“I’m looking for a new direction in the manner in which tourism is being run,” said Dardenne, who won re-election Oct. 22.
Hutchinson’s last day on the job is Friday.
Dardenne said Baton Rouge advertising and public relations specialist LeAnne Weill will serve as acting assistant secretary until Hutchinson’s replacement can be found.
The tourism job becomes the second vacancy in a top appointed position since Dardenne took office last fall.
Earlier, Dardenne got the resignation of the assistant secretary for the Office of State Museums, Sam Rykels.
Dardenne said he anticipates having both jobs filled by February or March in time for the start of the 2012 regular legislative session.
Robert Wheat, the museum office’s deputy director, has been temporarily filling the top job since Rykels’ departure in February.
Dardenne said Hutchinson is leaving on “good terms.”
Hutchinson had “a very challenging role” in his two-and-a-half years as tourism chief
as lieutenant governors changed three times, Dardenne said.
Hutchinson was appointed by Mitch Landrieu, who resigned to become New Orleans mayor, then stayed as Scott Angelle took over the job temporarily until Dardenne won a special election in 2010.
“He did a good job under a difficult situation,” Dardenne said of Hutchinson.
The tourism job includes overseeing advertising, public relations and Internet marketing contracts, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, the Scenic Byway Commission and 13 welcome centers.
By Thanksgiving, Dardenne said, job advertisements should go out for the tourism and museum positions, which are both subject to hiring and firing by the lieutenant governor.
Dardenne said he will involve the various tourism and museum boards in the selection process.
The job applications will go to Dardenne’s office, then be submitted to the groups
for narrowing the list to those to be interviewed, Dardenne said.
“The organizations will be involved in the interview process,” he said.
By law, the Louisiana Tourism Development Commission is supposed to recommend three to five individuals to Dardenne, from which he selects the tourism assistant secretary.
There is no such requirement in the museum board law, but Dardenne said he wants that input anyway.