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Mayor-elect names four key appointments

Mayor-elect Tim Keller announced Monday that four of his key staffers in the Auditor’s Office will be taking on top administrative positions in the city of Albuquerque when he becomes mayor on Friday, including Sarita Nair who has been appointed chief administrative officer.

Sarita Nair

Nair, an attorney, will replace Rob Perry, who has held the position since February 2011. She will be the first woman in the city’s history to serve as CAO, according to a news release from the transition team.

Nair has served as the chief government accountability officer and general counsel for the Auditor’s Office under Keller, and is currently leading his transition team. She earned her law degree and a master’s in community and regional planning from the University of New Mexico.

Sunalei Stewart

“One of the most important tasks during this historically short transition period is crafting a leadership team to take over operations on day one, while implementing our vision for a safe, innovative and inclusive city,” Keller said in the release. “We are building a talented team to tackle Albuquerque’s challenges head on. Each of these appointees brings strong experience and dedication to their work and will serve our city well.”

Other key appointments announced Monday are:

Sanjay Bhakta

• Sunalei Stewart, who has served as the Auditor’s Office chief of staff for the past three years, will become the city’s chief of staff and deputy CAO. Stewart is a licensed attorney and a certified fraud examiner. He earned his law and master’s degree from American University.

• Sanjay Bhakta, who has served as deputy state auditor under Keller, will become the city’s chief financial officer. He is a certified public accountant, a certified government financial manager, a certified fraud examiner and a chartered global management accountant. He earned his master’s degree from a university in Baroda, India.

Justine Freeman

• Justine Freeman, the deputy chief of staff for the Auditor’s Office for the past three years, will become the city’s deputy chief of staff. She earned her Master of Arts degree in international relations from San Francisco State University.

The interim appointments take effect on Friday. The transition team expects to announce additional appointments this week.