Mecham picks press secretary to replace Bellus

September 11, 1987

By Rosemary Schabert Case
Mesa Tribune

PHOENIX —— Republican Gov. Evan Mecham on Thursday named California public affairs specialist Ken Smith as his new press secretary.

Smith, 46, was introduced to Mecham about a month ago by a friend, Dennis Revell. Revell is the husband of Maureen Reagan, President Reagan’s daughter.

kvs200Smith is public affairs director for the County Supervisors Association in Sacramento. He will replace Ron Bellus, who will be shifted to another Mecham administration post. Bellus earns $46,000 a year.

Mecham on Thursday described Smith as “very well experienced. He’s a doer.”

“We looked over resumes of probably 10 or 15 people and just called in a small number for interviews and chose him.”

Mecham said he has no specific mission for Smith.

“He’s just going to do the job that should be done in public affairs assistance,” he said.

Mecham, whose poor relations with the press have been viewed as a detriment by key supporters, also had a quip on the hiring of Smith. “He said he could make everybody in the press love me.”

In a press release issued later Thursday, Mecham termed Smith’s background “a perfect fit as I continue building my team to promote the business potential of Arizona throughout the nation and the world.”

“He understands the particular needs, pressures and relationships of the news media, government and the private sector.”

Contacted in Sacramento, Smith said he has a positive impression of Mecham. “I find him a very likable fellow,” Smith said. “He’s very honest. And I like Arizona.”

Smith said he is completing projects in his current job and should begin work in about two weeks. His present duties include working with the media on legislative and public affairs campaigns and editing California County magazine.

Smith also has worked for business newspapers and in computer data management. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California and has taught public administration courses at Sacramento.

He said he is ready to take on the task of smoothing public relations for Mecham, who is the subject of a recall movement.

“There might be some high pressure, and I’m fully aware of it, so I’m not at all worried,” Smith said. “I honestly don’t see any major problems with it.”

He said his top priority will be to provide information as promptly as possible and to “just find out what your needs are and try to meet them.” He also hopes to set up a computerized system.

Bellus’ tenure has been riddled with complaints about poor grammar, scheduling mixups and closed meetings. Aside from his press duties, Bellus has often served as Mecham’s traveling companion. No new post has been set aside for Bellus, whose prior experience was in radio broadcasting.

“We haven’t really talked about what Ron’s going to do,” Mecham said. “I’ve always liked Ron.”