Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert H. Hunter will be assuming a new role as senior policy adviser to the governor.
At the press briefing Wednesday, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres announced that Hunter will be his senior policy adviser, as well as be his “right hand” in addressing policies in the CNMI. The governor also said that Hunter will continue helping out on all the concerns and activities of the DCCA.
“Obviously, he’s going to be in a more personal matter with me on activities surrounding the CNMI, all the issues. …But I do know that when I spoke to him, his heart has always been with DCCA and that’s not going anywhere. He’ll still be with DCCA,” Torres added.
The governor said that there are a lot of projects that Hunter has worked on and continues to work on, including the Economic Development Administration funding and grants, and that Hunter will still work on those, as well as on other issues in other departments.
Hunter, who said he is looking at his new role as “an opportunity to move on to tackle other problems,” thanked Torres for the “new opportunity” and cited the strides that have already been made. “We bring in about four times more in grant funding than we did four years ago. I think we’re hovering around $15 million this year,” Hunter said.
“I’ve spent 18 years now working in various capacities of the DCCA. It is an important department, in many ways, and one that’s really close to my heart. I think we really turned the DCCA around in a big way, for both the employees there and where our services are concerned.”
As for funding, the governor said that Hunter’s new role will be covered with federal funding and won’t cost the CNMI government. “I will not spend more than what my appropriation is to the governor’s account,” Torres stressed.
Aside from being the DCCA chief since 2016, Hunter also served as director of the NMI Museum of History and Culture, executive director of the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture, and as an Arts Program manager for the CNMI Public School System.
“Secretary Hunter has made DCCA a more efficient and responsive agency that has improved its resource management and streamlined better social services for our people. He will continue to assist DCCA in his new role as senior policy [adviser], but he will also work on addressing our other policy priorities around the government. Lt. Gov. [Arnold I.] Palacios and I are confident that he will serve our Commonwealth well moving forward,” Torres added.
Hunter will continue overseeing DCCA until an acting secretary is designated.