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Lujan Grisham appoints 4 Cabinet secretaries

Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham continued filling out her Cabinet on Wednesday, opting to promote from within for the secretaries of transportation and information technology.

And she introduced outsiders to head the Departments of Cultural Affairs and Higher Education.

In an Albuquerque news conference, Lujan Grisham said the appointees work well as a team and have a strong understanding of the need for state departments to collaborate.

She described them as “four New Mexico rising stars.”

“I’m working really hard to make sure that Cabinet secretaries – who are often very siloed – get in an environment where they’re working together,” she said.

Lujan Grisham is herself a former Cabinet secretary who served under both Republican and Democratic governors. She was later elected to the Bernalillo County Commission and then Congress, before winning the race for governor this year.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, takes office Tuesday. Her nominees are subject to Senate confirmation, but they can start work immediately.

The appointments announced Wednesday are:

• Debra Garcia y Griego, director of the city of Santa Fe’s Arts Commission, for secretary of cultural affairs.

Lujan Grisham said Garcia y Griego has an international reputation in the arts community. She is also a board member of the nonprofit Americans for the Arts.

• Vincent Martinez, who served in the state House in 1993-97, for secretary of the Department of Information Technology. He already works in the department as managing director of cloud and communications.

Lujan Grisham said Martinez has a deep background in technology work in the private sector and, as a former legislator, understands how to work well with policymakers.

• Kate O’Neill, former CEO of the University of New Mexico’s campus in Taos, for secretary of higher education.

“This is someone who took a fledgling UNM campus really struggling in rural New Mexico and has turned it around,” Lujan Grisham said.

• Mike Sandoval, a 24-year state employee and a division director within the state Department of Transportation, for secretary of transportation. He has overseen the Rail Runner Express commuter train, commercial-vehicle permitting, traffic safety and other programs.

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