SANTA FE – Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham tapped an outgoing state lawmaker, an Albuquerque fire captain and a disability-rights lawyer on Wednesday to join her Cabinet as she prepares to take office.
And she made clear that the nominees have no shortage of work ahead of them – including a government workforce squeezed by budget cuts, high vacancy rates and significant turnover.
“These are hard jobs,” Lujan Grisham said in a news conference at the Roundhouse. “Morale is poor – at an all-time low.”
The appointees are:
• Rep. Bill McCamley, a Las Cruces Democrat whose term ends Dec. 31, to head the Department of Workforce Solutions.
McCamley is a former Doña Ana County commissioner, and he ran a nonprofit group that worked on economic development in rural areas. In the Legislature, he served as chairman of the House Labor and Economic Development Committee.
He sought the Democratic nomination for state auditor this year.
• Alice Liu McCoy, an attorney for Disability Rights New Mexico, a nonprofit advocacy group, to lead the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services. She sued the state recently for failing to regulate boarding homes that take in former psychiatric patients.
McCoy also has served on panels working to improve New Mexico’s guardianship system for people who are incapacitated.
• Jackie White, a captain in Albuquerque Fire Rescue, to serve as secretary of homeland security and emergency management.
Her 17-year career has included work in special operations, homeland security and fire investigations.
She competed in the Olympics as a member of the Canadian softball team.
Lujan Grisham herself is a former Cabinet secretary of the Aging and Long-Term Services Department.
Each of the appointees is subject to confirmation by the state Senate. They can start work, however, immediately on Jan. 1.
The nominees will make $128,000 a year, the standard rate for Cabinet secretaries, though Lujan Grisham said the salaries may need to be raised to recruit and retain top executives in state government.
“They are too low, and it’s a barrier,” she said.
Lujan Grisham said she expects her nominees to hit the road to meet with constituents and employees throughout the state, to serve as advocates in the Legislature and to make honest assessments about how to improve their departments.
Lujan Grisham has announced appointments for six of the state’s 26 departments.
She said she expects to fill each spot by the time she’s sworn in.