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Giffords spokesman takes Pima post

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Giffords spokesman takes Pima post

  • Karamargin, right, with Giffords staffers Ron Barber and Gabe Zimmerman. Zimmerman was killed in the Jan. 8 shooting that wounded the congresswoman; Barber was also severely wounded.
    courtesy Giffords' officeKaramargin, right, with Giffords staffers Ron Barber and Gabe Zimmerman. Zimmerman was killed in the Jan. 8 shooting that wounded the congresswoman; Barber was also severely wounded.

The chief spokesman for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is leaving to become Vice Chancellor for Public Information and Government Relations at Pima Community College.

C.J. Karamargin has been the congresswoman's spokesman since 2007. Prior to that, he was a reporter and political columnist for the Tucson Citizen and the Arizona Daily Star.

"It's a great opportunity, a new challenge," Karamargin said of the move to Pima.

"Based on my experience as a former community college student, an institution like Pima can directly change a person's life for the better," he said. "You can have a direct and positive influence on society. That's why I went into journalism, that's why I was honored to work for Gabby."

"Serving as Gabby Giffords' communications director has been the most gratifying, satisfying and challenging period of my life," he said during a telephone interview. "It was especially challenging after Jan. 8."

"It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of Gabby's staff for the past 4 years and 7 months," Karamargin said. "My colleagues set a high standard for public service."

Karamargin said his departure has nothing to do with Giffords' political future.

"Unless you've been living under a rock or deep in a cave, you're aware that Gabby Giffords is on her way back," he said. referring to the congresswoman's emotional return to the floor of the House of Representatives last week.

"There's no doubt in my mind the most hard-working member of Congress will come back to the job that she loves - if she wants to," he said.

Karamargin received worldwide exposure earlier this year, after the Jan. 8 shooting incident that ended with 6 dead and 13 wounded, including the congresswoman.

"C.J. has done a brilliant job throughout his career," said Dr. Roy Flores, Pima's chancellor, in a press release. "He brings to the college a rare combination of sensitivity to community needs, excellent communication skills, and deep knowledge of the political processes of Pima County, Arizona and Washington, D.C."

"Pima County Community College made the right decision in choosing C.J.," said Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, in a release.

"Although this is bittersweet for us, we’re all thrilled that C.J. is transitioning to a new and exciting chapter in his career." she said.

The vice chancellor post is a new one, and has a salary of $148,188.

In addition to working at newspapers in Tucson, Karamargin served as an editor and reporter at the States News Service in Washington, D.C., and was a reporter at newspapers in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Idaho. He had nearly 15 years of experience in journalism before becoming Giffords' spokesman.

Karamargin received a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and history from the University of Connecticut, after earning an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Mitchell College in New London, Conn.

"Community colleges have played a significant role in my education and in the education of my family,” Karamargin said in the release from Giffords' office. "I would not have graduated from college without the classes I took at a community college. Community colleges are a critical component of this nation’s education system and I am excited to be part of one of the finest."

Mark Kimble, a former Tucson Citizen editor who has been on Giffords' team for two years, will take Karamargin's place as the congresswoman's spokesman.

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