Gould named Heitkamp’s chief of staffJamestown native Tessa Gould, who ran Democrat Heidi Heitkamp’s successful campaign for the U.S. Senate, will serve as her chief of staff in Washington.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown native Tessa Gould, who ran Democrat Heidi Heitkamp’s successful campaign for the U.S. Senate, will serve as her chief of staff in Washington.
“From the very, very early run when I came to this decision Tessa was top on the list of people, No. 1, I could work with and who could run a campaign of this magnitude,” Heitkamp said Friday. “If the proof is in the results, no one could argue with me on this, she ran a super campaign.”
A Jamestown High School and Jamestown College graduate, Gould made her way from Jack Brown Stadium to the top congressional aide for the state’s newest elected senator.
Gould spent a lot of time growing up around the stadium that bears her grandfather’s name.
“I’m excited to be able to work for Jamestown and all of North Dakota,” Gould said, of her new job for Heitkamp. “But obviously there’s a soft spot in my heart for the community.”
Gould was raised in a family where politics was a topic freely discussed. Her father, Tom Gould, was a civics teacher here.
Her cousin, Spc. Phillip Brown, also gave his life in service for the country.
“Those kinds of experiences open your eyes to make you want to serve too,” Gould said. “Obviously I didn’t serve in the same capacity as Phillip — I feel like that’s the gift I was given.”
In 1996 she earned a double major in history/political science and English from Jamestown College. While at JC she interned for Sen. Byron Dorgan where she got more interested in politics.
Since then she has worked with other prominent Democrats: former Rep. Earl Pomeroy and former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, R-Mo., and as chief of staff for Sen. Stephanie Herseth, Sandlin, S.D.
That experience is something Heitkamp wanted for her U.S. Senate bid and beyond.
“Tessa is a woman who knows the congressional office, from the very bottom interning and doing the mail, to the very top and being chief of staff,” Heitkamp said. “There’s no one I know who’d be better qualified…”
Still running with momentum from a successful campaign Gould is ready to take the lead.
“Things are moving pretty quickly, but this campaign has been fairly spirited,” Gould said. “I feel so lucky to have been surrounded by an amazing group of people who have worked on the campaign.”
Gould has lived in Washington, D.C., before and isn’t worried about making the transition back to the nation’s capital.
“The chief of staff is the No. 1 staffer for the senator, and obviously it’s quite an honor to be asked by Heidi to take this role on after being her campaign manager,” she said.
As chief of staff Gould will run the office and staff as well as be Heitkamp’s top congressional adviser.
Heitkamp has expressed interest in being on committees for agriculture, energy, finance, veterans’ affairs, small business and Indian affairs.
“It takes a very diverse group of people to make all of this work and we’re very excited about the talent that has expressed interest already,” Gould said of interest in working with Heitkamp.
Heitkamp said she hasn’t figured out how many staff members she will have, but did say she will reduce the staff operating budget by 5 percent, which will mean a smaller staff.
“I think Tessa is somebody who can manage a great staff with fewer resources than other people have,” Heitkamp said.
Heitkamp and Gould will leave for Washington on Monday for orientation on Tuesday. Heitkamp said she’s in a good position with Gould, and she will work with Sen. John Hoeven and retiring Sen. Kent Conrad to get acclimated to her new position.
Heitkamp also said Gould’s experience in politics, with her Jamestown roots, will help her better serve the citizens of North Dakota.
“Thank the good citizens of Jamestown for raising Tessa so well,” Heitkamp said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com